The Real Reason Lena Dunham Is Using A Cane

We're used to seeing our favorite stars only within the context of roles that they play. In Hollywood, unless they are caught by paparazzi, they are forever flawless, godlike, and invincible; that is, unless a scriptwriter or producer says otherwise. So when Lena Dunham took to Instagram to post a photo of her in a nightie and using a cane, we could only applaud her. 

No, she says she wasn't dressed as a woman leaving a Florida Keys jail for Halloween; in fact, she had a very important message. "This is what life is like when I'm struggling most with chronic illness," Dunham wrote. "An Ehler-Danlos syndrome flare means that I need support from more than just my friends... so thank you, sweet cane. For years, I resisted doing anything that would make my physical situation easier, insisting that a cane would 'make things weird.' But it's so much less weird to actually be able to participate than to stay in bed all day."

But wait... there's more. Dunham? Outside? In a nighty? She writes, "And yes, you'd better believe I'm wearing my nightgown. I was walking four feet to the car to go to the doctor and I wanted to be full cozy. I mean, didn't Bieber wear hotel slippers for like five years? Yeah, so I can wear my glamour nighty for two hours. And then an hour later, I'm in a meeting... tackling the job I love. That's the two-fold life of a woman with chronic illness; we still rock our dreams and goals and passions (and fashions) and we live many lives in one day."

What is Ehlers-Danlos syndrome?

The Ehlers-Danlos Society describes the Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes (EDS) as a group of 13 different disorders involving the connective tissues. These tissues — which are found in different parts of the body including the skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels — are responsible for giving the body strength and elasticity. If someone has this disease, their tissues are unstable and are worked to beyond their normal capacities. Dunham isn't the only person with EDS in the spotlight — Singer sia took to Twitter in early October 2019 to say she also suffered from EDS.

EDS is genetic — also, there is no known cure and it can affect a person in different ways. Those affected can have joint hypermobility, which means they can have unstable joints and can be prone to dislocations and fractures. They can also develop early-onset osteoarthritis. Those diagnosed with EDS have skin that tears or bruises easily, their wounds heal slowly, and they scar badly. They can also suffer from severe muscle pains and have scoliosis (a crooked or bent spine), poor muscle tone, and gum disease. Those who suspect they have EDS can only be diagnosed through genetic testing, and the National Institutes of Health says it's pretty rare, as the disorders affect one in 5,000 people. It's a hard condition to live with, as 90 percent of those affected experience chronic pain and need medication and physical therapy as a result (via Today). 

Dunham has taken a paparazzi shot that was likely meant to embarrass her and turned it into a post revealing the ways the condition affects her while raising awareness for EDS, so huge props to her.