Gillian McKeith is a Scottish nutritionist, television presenter, and writer. She is the former host in the UK of Channel 4's You Are What You Eat and Granada Television's Dr Gillian McKeith's Feel Fab Forever, and as of 2010 presents Eat Yourself Sexy on the W Network in Canada. She is the author of several books about nutrition, including You Are What You Eat (2004), and Dr Gillian McKeith's Ultimate Health Plan (2006).
"When I was 14 years old, a doctor visited my high school in Perth in Scotland and checked everyone's spines - a practice I think should be reintroduced along with definitive action-plan guidelines if scoliosis is detected.
The GP told me my spine was a wee bit squint, nothing to worry about, and sent me for exercises for a few weeks.
I was not referred to a specialist. As a teenager, it was never mentioned again; the word scoliosis was never uttered; no one ever measured, examined or X-rayed me.
So throughout my teenage years, I felt relatively normal. However, there were signs of concern. As a child I was always way smaller than my friends and classmates.
While the spines of my peers were growing in the regular, straight-up, healthy way, mine was growing sideways.
Adults would make comments such as 'Oh, you're so short' or 'What a tiny wee lassie you are'. The pint-size remarks were relentless and remorseless. And there was something strange about my hips - I couldn't sit cross-legged, it just wasn't anatomically possible.
When the spine is crooked, the skeletal structure is out of alignment and does not allow for normal function.
Even though other children never bullied me because of my puniness, when I was about nine, one tall girl in primary school went ballistic on me.
She picked on smaller kids and started calling me a 'pipsqueak midget', then she let rip. My hair was being pulled out in clumps, her nails were scratching deep into my young skin with blood running down my sad face as her angry feet ferociously kicked my legs.
I felt as if I were living a nightmare. It was on that cold, wintry day that I realised I had to toughen up to survive. In life we need to be strong, able to handle whatever comes our way, in the face of all adversity.
My brother-in-law used to tease me relentlessly about being a small fry. I even went so far as to be hypnotised to believe I was 5ft 10in. The funny thing is that I now always feel as if I'm the tallest person in a room.
But the verbal attacks over my size would become far more virulent as a famous adult than anything I ever experienced as a child. In January this year a London radio talk show presenter referred to me as 'that dwarf'.
'Of course, I am not an actual dwarf - I don't know how tall I am now, I never measure myself - but I suppose I am a wee thing due to the medical deformity scoliosis.
But size is not all that matters. I can often feel self-conscious that people will look upon my curved back in horror or disgust, so I find ways to cover it up.
When I came into the public eye in 2004, I was amazed at some catty comments about my hair. Who does she think she is, having such long hair? Doesn't she know she's over 25?
I've always worn my hair long --partly because it's shiny and healthy, and why the hell shouldn't I? But my perception is that it disguises my frightening spinal curvature.
A magazine once joked that I have the longest arms in showbusiness. Sure enough, I could see that, due to my contorted and shortened spine, my arm length does appear out of proportion. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Luckily I have toughened up, or wisened up, so it was actually a good chuckle.
The curve even affects what I wear. I try to find garments that hide my back. It's not always so easy. A couple of years ago when I gave an award at the Baftas, I panicked. I could not possibly show my scary back to the whole nation on telly. I needed to find an evening gown that could disguise my spinal 'S'.
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Posted By: AAways |
4/01/13 11:33 AM
Very good mate of mine growing up had scoliosis but it wasnt as severe so he wasnt bullied but he coudlnt play full contact anything and it made him very sad.