The Girls actress posted the photo of herself to Instagram, where she wrote a lengthy caption explaining that she was suffering from an Ehler-Danlos syndrome flare and that she is “not embarrassed” by her appearance.
“I could choose to be embarrassed by these paparazzi pics - I mean, that’s probably the point of someone publishing them in the first place - but I’m really not,” she wrote. “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).
“But the truth is just: This is what life is like when I’m struggling most with chronic illness.”
EDS is a group of rare inherited conditions that affect connective tissue, with symptoms including an increased range of joint movement and fragile skin that breaks or bruises easily.
According to the writer, a flare of the condition means she needs support from “more than just my friends… so thank you, sweet cane!”.
Dunham continued, explaining that for “years” she resisted using a cane because she thought it would “make things weird”.
“But it’s so much less weird to actually be able to participate than to stay in bed all day,” she wrote. “And yes, you’d better believe I’m wearing my nightgown.”
The 33-year-old also defended her right to wear a nightgown to her doctor’s office before changing for a meeting, including a second photo of herself taken an hour later, in which she is wearing a “meeting look”.
“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,” Dunham concluded.
The post, which has been liked more than 50,000 times, prompted an outpouring of support for the actress.
“You inspire me,” one person wrote, while another said: “There’s more to life than what we look like. Keep finding your way to health!!”
This is not the first time Dunham has discussed what it is like living with chronic illness.
In March, the actress wrote in a New York Times article that “Cosy is my religion. There are few things in life I take as seriously as the cultivation and preservation of comfort,” after revealing in 2018 that she had undergone a total hysterectomy – a procedure that surgically removes the cervix and uterus - following years of suffering from chronic pain as a result of endometriosis.
Dunham has also undergone multiple surgeries for fibromyalgia, a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body.
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