‘People make spiteful comments about your size, it can be very hurtful’
The professional dancer first revealed she was living with the condition in 2019 in an effort to help other sufferers.
According to the NHS, Crohn’s is a lifelong condition in which parts of the digestive system become inflamed. Crohn’s sufferers commonly experience bouts of intense abdominal pain, severe vomiting, exhaustion and bloody diarrhoea, among other symptoms.
Dowden, 30, told Hello! magazine she recently experienced a flare-up of the condition and was given a high dose of intravenous steroids, which made her “bloat”.
She said: “Although it makes me feel better, it creates water retention, making my hips, thighs and bottom bloat and my face puffy.
“I want to look my best on the dance floor, but when you get photographed in an unflattering light and people make spiteful comments about your size, it can be very hurtful.”
She added that she has been dealing with the effect of medication on her body throughout her career, either appearing “too skinny and people assumed I was anorexic” or being bloated from the medication.
One comment in particularly hurt her, she said, in which a dressmaker said after she left the dance floor and entered a changing room: “She has a fat bottom and a thick middle.”
Dowden continued: “I felt so humiliated and embarrassed. I was only 21 and still trying to deal with my condition. As a dancer struggling to fit into tiny costumes, I became very self-conscious.”
But the Strictly team are very supportive of her, she said, and have “been so kind”.
“If I’m not feeling well, the boys are so thoughtful and say ‘Nobody’s lifting Amy today’,” she said.
“Dianne (Buswell) is always checking on me and when I had to go to hospital, Oti (Mabuse) got into a car the moment she finished filming and turned up at 11pm to see me.
“Another time when I was ill, Katya (Jones) took me to hospital and sat with me until 5am.”
Dowden urged people to “stop and think before they speak or write an unkind message”, adding that some were “too quick to comment” about a person’s appearance.
“They have no idea what the target of their remark is going through,” she added.