Make Asthma Stock Images Suck Less.

Make Asthma Stock Images Suck Less

If I were to start a ridiculous petition, it would be to Make Asthma Stock Images Suck Less. Seriously. Reading asthma news or any asthma website becomes painful when exposed to terrible stock images that either just poorly or inaccurately convey the realities of asthma. 1) I don’t actually look at all dramatic when I can’t breathe properly, unlike what movies would also like you to believe. 2) I’m also not constantly running through a field of daisies. And, 3) You’re using that inhaler wrong (also, that inhaler is not even real).

Let’s go on a tour, shall we? I’ll be including links to the images because of copyright (also because why are they so bad?!)

Category 1: I don’t actually look at all dramatic

I’m sure it happens, but I have never personally seen someone look as dramatic as these stock photo people do all chest-clutchy while actively taking an inhaler.

This woman is clearly being coached (also a mention for the Bonus Category of Also, that inhaler is not even real here!) meaning the doctor (?) attending to her should have already treated the asthma before trying to teach the patient to use her inhaler. Also, a spacer could help. Also, why’s she holding her neck? Here’s another very dramatic woman holding her neck (amusingly the description also says choking which is not asthma. Good thing her inhaler is nicely laid in front of her on the blue tablecloth thing!

At least this lady is clutching herchest where her lungs reside while reaching for her inhaler, and at least her inhaler is real. Very convenient that her barren living room table has only her inhaler on it, right in the middle all photogenic! Then, we have this man who looks very dramatic whilst still casually atop his sofa. Do these two have the same couch, I wonder?

Also, I’m really not sure what’s going on here, but this poor hysterical looking (or laughing?) soccer-playing child should probably be coached by the shockingly happy looking woman to sit up so he can actually inhale properly? Fortunately, most of the children depicted in the stock photos are doing things right!

Category 2: I’m not constantly running through a field of daisies

Like a “good" old-school pharma ad (which we don’t get here in Canada, thanks), I am not constantly running through a field of daisies, even when my asthma is well controlled. Because, seriously, why? Who actually does that?

Fascinatingly, Google Images returns few people of the asthmatic variety running through fields, even when seeking them, yet perhaps produces the aftermath of the pharmaceutical commercials: many, many adults and children standing in random fields using their inhalers.

Category 3: You’re using that inhaler wrong

Often, inhaler instructions say to put the inhaler between your teeth but not to bite down on it. Well, I could be incorrect, but I think this lady barely got the memo to put the inhaler into her mouth (also this one). On the opposite end of the spectrum, this lady is trying to eat hers. I can guarantee, even the most mild tasting inhaler is not delicious.
On a similar note, while that man is seemingly distressed by how he is clutching his chest, he’s not going to ever be able to depress the canister holding his inhaler that way!

And the winner of this category (and the image that inspired this post long long ago): Ma’am! Ma’am! You’re doing it wrong.
Yes, indeed, she is holding her inhaler upside down, and probably needs a consult with one of my asthma educator colleagues stat!

Bonus category: Also, that inhaler is not even real

My favorite in the Where’s Waldo of stock photos, though, is spotting the Placebo Inhaler. These inhalers are totally white, and if you look closely, may also say For demonstration only. Not for therapeutic use. on the canister.
So, ma'am from above, not only is that inhaler not far enough in your mouth, it’s also not even real. Same with you, dramatic lady with hand on chest.

A plea to the stock photographers

Please, please, stop with these unrealistic, incorrect photos! No, not all asthma attacks are dramatic spectacles worthy of an Oscar! No, we don’t spend our time frolicking through fields of daisies! And look, 10% of the population has asthma: you can find a model with a real inhaler rather than a white placebo trainer! We don’t need any actor asthmatics or actor inhalers!

The more accurate stock photos in media covering this disease, the more people will internalize asthma accurately—that it’s not always a chest-gripping dramatic spectacle; it’s not always an inhaler or a nebulizer mask or being on the sidelines. Sure, the drama gets attention, and it’s easy to “see” struggle—but I have asthma 100% of the time—not just when I have symptoms.


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