Britains Got Talent Scoliosis

Scoliosis on Britain’s Got Talent!

If you live in the UK, you probably saw the inspirational young dancer (Julia) with scoliosis on Britain’s Got Talent. If you don’t, or you haven’t seen it, take a look at the video below.

Scoliosis on Britain’s Got Talent

I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was a similar age to Julia (14) and have struggled with body confidence issues all my life.

Watching Julia perform on Saturday night made me feel quite emotional for two reasons:

Firstly, I think she was so brave to go on National TV, proudly showing off her back in a skimpy top. When I was her age, I was so ashamed of my scoliosis that nobody even knew I had it. I kept it a secret and hid my back in baggy clothes. It took me a good ten years or so before I accepted my scoliosis, began to tell people and felt proud of my back. I felt so alone back then, it was especially hard as I didn’t know a single soul with the condition. The fact that she has done this will help and inspire SO MANY teenage girls with scoliosis. Hopefully, it will help them to realise that they are not alone and should be SO PROUD of their bodies. Support and talking to others with the condition is crucial when you have scoliosis.

Secondly, it was absolutely amazing to hear scoliosis mentioned on such a huge prime time TV show. Simon Cowell actually asked what it was..! The awareness that has been raised as a result is absolutely fantastic. My Twitter and emails have been going crazy since Saturday with people wanting to know more about scoliosis. It’s strange because scoliosis is quite a common condition, and yet so many people don’t (or didn’t!) know anything about it. I feel like it’s finally getting the awareness that it deserves!

What is scoliosis?

Whilst the awareness that has been raised is obviously amazing, I also feel that it’s important to educate people on scoliosis and provide the correct information. Scoliosis is NOT commonly caused by back injuries or accidents. In fact, the most common cause  of scoliosis is Idiopathic (no known cause). This is the type of scoliosis I have and it is more common in teenage girls during growth spurts. It can also be present from birth (congenital) or develop in children (early onset).  It sounds like the latter is the scoliosis that Julia has from her description. If you want to know more about scoliosis, you can check out my page here – what is scoliosis? or visit the Scoliosis Association (UK) website.

Scoliosis surgery is NOT the end!

The last thing I wanted to say on this topic is that it’s a shame that Julia feels she won’t be able to dance post scoliosis surgery. Now this all depends on the level of fusion, but having had the surgery myself (with a long fusion), I don’t doubt for a second that she will be able to dance post scoliosis surgery.

It’s all about attitude and she has such a positive attitude that I believe she will be able to achieve anything she puts her mind to post surgery. Scoliosis surgery does involve fusing the spine, and as a result you DO lose some flexibility. However, you learn to adapt. She may not be able to do some of the moves she can do now, but she should still be able to dance, just in a different way.

Yes, it is a serious operation with a very long recovery (up to a year or more) but once recovered there’s no reason why you can’t do everything you did pre-surgery. It takes time but with determination anything is possible.

I know people who have had scoliosis surgery and gone on to win professional dance and cheerleading competitions! There are so many inspirational scoliosis surgery survivors out there.

Since my scoliosis surgery almost 7 years ago, I have achieved SO many things I never thought would be possible. I have completed a Masters Degree in Marketing Communications with distinction, I have climbed an actual mountain (not easy – one year post op!), I have walked a marathon (26.2 miles) over night for charity, I have ran several 10K and 5K races, I have done muddy obstacle courses, I do classes at the gym I never thought possible such as Body Pump, Zumba, Boxercise, Body Combat and HITT training. I’m also planning a Great Wall of China Trek later this year to raise awareness of scoliosis and raise money for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund.

The point is, when I was 14 and first diagnosed, I thought that if I had the surgery my life would be over. In actual fact, having the surgery, was where my life BEGAN.

I know not everyone is as lucky and every case is different, but in my case my scoliosis surgery transformed my life, reduced my pain and increased my self confidence.

I just want to say THANK YOU to Julia for being so brave and helping to raise much needed awareness of scoliosis. I only wish I had her confidence and positive attitude towards scoliosis when I was her age. It will be this that will get her through the surgery and dancing once more.

Louise X

Richard III: Channel 4 documentary and scoliosis

It’s all over the news at the minute, it has been confirmed that the skeleton buried underneath a car park in Leicester discovered several months ago is in fact Richard III. 

What interested me more though, was his skeleton showed that he had scoliosis, which shows just how long the condition has been around.

I can sympathise with Richard III, as looking at his skeleton reminded me of my curve pre-surgery and I really felt for the guy knowing the pain and discomfort he must have been in everyday. Having said that, he didn’t seem to let his scoliosis stop him, either!

I felt compelled to write this post after watching the Channel 4 documentary about Richard III last night, which showed how his skeleton was found. I was looking forward to watching it, as I felt it would be a real chance for Channel 4 to raise awareness of scoliosis in a positive and inspiring way. In some ways, I actually felt proud to be connected to a former King through my scoliosis.

What I witnessed, in fact, was a poorly researched programme which to me reflected scoliosis in a highly negative and offensive way.

Scoliosis was portrayed negatively to millions of people, with frequent uses of offensive words being inaccurately used to describe scoliosis throughout the documentary.

What upsets me more, is that there are now many people out there, including children in schools, who will think it’s ok to use these offensive words, not just as a result of this programme but also the other inaccurate media coverage out there about Richard III and his scoliosis. It makes me so mad.

Scoliosis effects your self confidence and body image in a big way, I should know, and the insensitive comments throughout this particular documentary and other media coverage will not help those with the condition and are extremely hurtful.

This was a prime opportunity for Channel 4 to promote a positive message about scoliosis including understanding and acceptance but for me this programme did the exact opposite.

I have already made a complaint to Channel 4 but I think it highlights more than ever how important it is to raise awareness of scoliosis and set the record STRAIGHT (so to speak!) 🙂 about what it really involves and it how it affects people’s lives everyday.