How Going On 'Dancing with the Stars' Changed Selma Blair's Relationship with Food and Exercise

Plus, why she feels "more empathetic" toward herself these days.

Selma Blair
Getty Images.

Selma Blair is shedding more light on her experience as a cast member on Dancing with the Stars as well as how having multiple sclerosis (MS) has impacted her relationship with herself in a new cover story for Self.

The Legally Blonde actress's decision to appear on the competitive dance series was a big deal for more than a few reasons. For one thing, it was a shift from how she typically presents herself in the spotlight. "I don’t do well on TV, historically," said Blair. "I don’t really have that commercial face with the bleached teeth and the Botox and the whole thing that’s very camera-friendly."

However, realizing "what a vehicle" the show could be in terms of representation, she decided to give it a go. "I think it’s important for people with chronic illness or disabilities to see what they can do," Blair remembered telling her team when the offer to appear on the show was on the table. "I deserve to have a good time and try."

Going on the show offered Blair some unexpected benefits, according to her recent conversation with Self. She surprised herself with how much she enjoyed the experience. "I felt like I was in college again and you love the class," she told the publication. "It immediately transformed my way of thinking, and it immediately put a pep in my step."

More than a pep in her step, the show impacted her approach to nutrition and fitness, as she quickly learned she needed to fuel her body with nutritious meals instead of her go-to Cheetos and charcuterie to keep up with her new dance training schedule. "It changed my relationship to food and exercise," Blair explained in the recent interview, noting that she hired a friend to cook for her and her son at the time. "I had energy and I slept well."

As much as she loved being a part of the show, the Cruel Intentions actress had to listen to her body and bow out early after dealing with stress fractures and bleeding in her knee, a ligament tear in her ankle, and damage in her hips, reports Self. "I was so brokenhearted to have been injured," said Blair.

"I really wanted to keep going," she continued "I was really proud of myself that, for at least five weeks, I kept up. But there was a time that I had to take care of myself." Looking back on the experience, "it did give me some inner knowledge that I’m stronger than I thought."

Blair was diagnosed with MS in 2018, sharing the news with the public in an interview with Town & Country in April 2021. The condition can disrupt communication between the brain and other parts of the body, as the immune system attacks the protective sheath that covers nerve fibers, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Symptoms vary for everyone and may include numbness or weakness in the limbs, lack of coordination, blurred vision, inability to walk, fatigue, and slurred speech. There's currently no cure, but treatments such as anti-inflammatory drugs and plasma exchanges can help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

While Blair still experiences occasional MS symptoms, she is in remission, meaning the disease is not progressing. Along with her stint on Dancing with the Stars, Blair has also turned her energy toward making beauty more inclusive for people living with disabilities and chronic conditions. She's currently the chief creative officer of Guide Beauty, a brand that sells beauty products and tools designed to guide your hands as you use them, making it easier for those with an array of abilities to apply their own makeup.

After everything she's gone through over the past few years, the entrepreneur and mom is finding some positive aspects of her diagnosis. "It rewired me to find acceptance in being honest about my faults, about my past addiction, and about my problems," she told Self. "It made me more empathetic towards myself."

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