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Lena Dunham attends awards show with cane: 'There's room for all kinds of bodies in filmmaking'

  • Lena Dunham attended an awards show with a cane to help with her chronic illness

  • The Girls star decided to "rock the cane" and show "there's room for all kinds of bodies in filmmaking"

  • Dunham has a type of Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS), a group of rare inherited conditions that affect the body's connective tissue

  • Read the full article to find out more about EDS and the impact it can have on people's lives

Lena Dunham attends The 2022 Gotham Awards at Cipriani Wall Street at Cipriani Wall Street with a cane on November 28, 2022 in New York City. (Getty Images for FIJI Water)
Lena Dunham decided to 'rock the cane' at the 2022 Gotham Awards at Cipriani Wall Street in New York on 28 November. (Getty Images)

Lena Dunham attended an independent film awards show with a cane she uses related to her chronic illness.

The all-star writer, director, actor and producer, 36, best known for her hit show Girls, confidently walked the red carpet of the 2022 Gotham Awards in New York on Monday 28 November.

"I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is something I've talked about publicly," she told Entertainment Tonight at the event.

"So my knee is currently injured, and so I decided not to have shame about it and just to rock the cane cos there's room for all kinds of bodies in filmmaking.

"Curvy girls, disabled girls, all kinds of people."

Read more: Lena Dunham opens up about shaving her head while battling an 'autoimmune disease'

A portrait shot of Lena Dunham attending the 2022 Gotham Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on November 28, 2022 in New York City. (Getty Images)
Lena Dunham has previously challenged the stigma around living with a chronic illness. (Getty Images)

Dunham first shared a paparazzi photo of herself using her cane in public to Instagram in 2019 to show she was "not embarrassed".

Injecting her humour into the post, she wrote in part, "I could lie and say it was an early Halloween look (Don’t you get it? I’m going as a con woman leaving a Florida Keys jail after being acquitted of murdering her husband, and now she’s trying to get disability license plates.)"

However, she added, "But the truth is just: This is what life is like when I’m struggling most with chronic illness.

"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."

So, what exactly is the syndrome that Jameela Jamil, Sia and Halsey also have, and what is it like to live with?

What is Ehlers-Danlos syndrome?

Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS) are actually a group of rare inherited conditions that affect connective tissue, according to the NHS. These tissues provide support in skin, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, internal organs and bones.

The different types of EDS are caused by 'faults' in particular genes that make the connective tissue weaker, which may have been inherited from one or both parents, or sometimes occurs for the first time.

General EDS symptoms

Some types of EDS may share symptoms, which can include:

  • an increased range of joint movement

  • stretchy skin

  • fragile skin that breaks or bruises easily

EDS can affect people differently, with it being relatively mild for some, and more debilitating for others. Meanwhile, some of the rare, severe types can be life-threatening.

Read more: Halsey says 'my body is rebelling against me' health-wise after having first child

Watch: Halsey has been newly diagnosed with multiple health conditions including EDS

Main types of EDS

There are as many as 13 types of EDS, with hypermobile EDS (hEDS) the most common.

Those with hEDS may experience:

  • joint hypermobility

  • loose, unstable joints that dislocate easily

  • joint pain and clicking joints

  • extreme tiredness

  • skin that bruises easily

  • digestive problems

  • dizziness and an increased heart rate after standing up

  • problems with internal organs

  • problems with bladder control

Read more: Jameela Jamil says she was weighed at school and compared to classmates by teacher

Other types include classical EDS (cEDS), which is less common than hEDS and tends to affect the skin more, vascular EDS (vEDS), which affects the blood vessels and internal organs and is considered to be most serious, and kyphoscoliotic EDS (kEDS).

Some people may have symptoms of hypermobility spectrum disorder (HSD), but don't have any of the specific EDS conditions. However, it is treated in the same way as hEDS.

While there's no single treatment for EDS, it can be managed with help from professionals including a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, counsellor (generally, as well as genetic counselling to learn more about the cause), and regular scans.

For more information visit the NHS website on EDS, which advises you to see a GP if you have several troublesome symptoms of EDS.

You can also visit Ehlers-Danlos Support UK, call its free helpline on 0800 907 8518 or search for local support groups.

Or, visit Hypermobility Syndromes Association (HMSA), call its helpline on 0333 011 6388 or find local support groups.