In her new memoir Mean Baby, actress Selma Blair describes what it’s been like to become the public face of multiple sclerosis (MS). You may recognize her from seminal roles in several legendary late ‘90s/early ‘00s movies; she is perhaps most famous for her turn as the good-girl-gone-bad locking lips with Sarah Michelle Gellar in Cruel Intentions, or the snotty brunette in competition with a sunny Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.
But Blair, who turns 50 this month, has been best-known of late for her MS diagnosis. Since learning of her condition in 2018, she’s bravely shared her health tribulations on social media and spoken about adapting to the disease, even starring in a documentary called Introducing, Selma Blair last year. Blair has become a role model for anyone living with a disability, proudly walking the red carpet with the cane she uses to keep her balance.
Blair’s new memoir Mean Baby provides a candid look at her past alcoholism — which she says began as early as age 7 — and details other traumatic events in her past, including sexual assault. In a recent interview with the Today show, Blair confirmed that she hasn’t had a drink since a 2016 incident during which she lost consciousness on a plane with her 4-year-old son. The book is dedicated to him.
Mean Baby also recounts Blair’s lifelong physical ailments — including high fevers, shingles, nerve pain, fatigue, and mysterious falls — that doctors could not determine the cause behind for 20 years. Much of Blair’s drinking was actually done in an effort to self-medicate her crippling symptoms. MS is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the nervous system, which can affect people’s motor functions (in addition to causing a host of other problems). To manage her condition, Blair has undergone chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.
In her memoir, Blair describes the warnings she received from doctors about going public with her disease. They worried she wouldn’t get work anymore — because as an actress, her body was all she had. But Blair disclosed her MS anyway, and is happy she did.
“When I was diagnosed with MS, my life finally did markedly change,” she writes in the book. “I became a kind of face for the disease, an advocate for something that matters to me. Though it’s a role I never thought I would play, it has become who I am. … When it comes to chronic illnesses, there’s a lot of shame in disclosing one’s experiences. People judge. People dispute your symptoms. People say things can’t be proved. Let me assure you, this stuff is real.”
It seems apparent that despite her disease’s consistent presence, Selma Blair has reckoned with old wounds and successfully started to heal.