Raynaud's: A British Tabloid Obession

Raynaud's: A British Tabloid Obession


Whenever I search for news about Raynaud’s syndrome, I find headlines that are, well, jarring and sensational. That’s what happens when much of the mainstream news being published about Raynaud’s comes from British tabloids. 

“Star advised to ‘dip fingers in whiskey’ to help ‘strange’ condition” screamed a Daily Express headline in December 2021. 

Demonstrating their headline-pun skills, the editors at The Sun answered back with “Silent Chiller: We battle Raynaud’s like Louise Minchin – I feel so cold I worry my fingers might fall off.” 

And who could forget the 2016 Daily Mail headline “It was like I was being stabbed in the boobs” about a woman trying to breastfeed with Raynaud’s?

Hey, not everyone is trying for a Pulitzer.  

In 2022, we’ve seen a number of British celebs grapple with Raynaud’s in the tabloids.

Entries include “‘Really anxious’ Jenni Falconer admits concerns about hidden health issue on skiing trip” (Daily Express); “Radio DJ feared he had Raynaud’s disease after ‘unbearable’ symptoms” (Daily Express); and “Davina McCall shares worrying photo to highlight her incurable condition,” (Hello!).

Even Her Majesty got in the conversation. “Doctor sheds light on Queen’s apparent ‘purple hands’ in recent pics,” the Daily Record reported in November 2021. 

My initial takeaway from this deep dive? I’m not sure if I want to tell the arses at the tabloids to sod-off for their terrifying, alarmist language or if I want to applaud them for actually putting Raynaud’s in the news and telling stories about the ways it impacts people.

My second takeaway: Compared to America, Britain has a ton of famous people with Raynaud’s. By my count, they have TV presenter Louise Minchin (the one given the whiskey advice); TV presenter Jenni Falconer; TV presenter Davina McCall; and TV presenter and radio DJ Chris Evans.

Are there really a lot more celebs with Raynaud’s in the UK or is half the nation a "TV presenter"? Are the sensational British tabloids just more likely to delve into gruesome and click-baity details about purple appendages?

Perhaps coverage of the first British celebrity with Raynaud’s got the ball rolling, leading to more and more coverage about different celebs with the condition. Over here across the Pond, the Raynaud’s beat is much quieter. Do we just not have our poster child yet? Our Raynaud’s Yankee?

Maybe not, but we do have a Brewer. In July, U.S. media reported a Major League Baseball pitcher named Brandon Woodruff missed a couple weeks of games after being diagnosed with Raynaud’s. Whoa! A famous American with Raynaud’s! Later in the month, a story appeared in The Athletic, “As Brandon Woodruff returns from Raynaud’s syndrome, Tom Glavine can relate.” 

Wait, what? Tom Glavine has Raynaud’s?? I was never a big baseball fan growing up, but of course I remember the Hall-of Fame pitcher. I was shocked he dealt with Raynaud’s during his remarkable career. Perhaps the ball is now rolling for more Raynaud’s stories in America.

As for Britain, what do you think is behind their Raynaud’s obsession? 

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