My Annual Summer Debate With EDS: Pants or Shorts?

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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Every summer, I face the same conundrum: Do I wear shorts and skirts, or not?

My answer tends to vary, but this year, I bought myself a few new pairs of shorts that I’ve already worn several times. I’m not sure I had any shorts I actually liked last summer.

Like many people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), I always have bruises. Some are small, others are larger, and I have no recollection of what caused most of them. I always feel torn between wearing what I want and not caring what other people think, and wearing pants or jeans so I don’t have to deal with looks and questions.

While my bruising doesn’t come close to the bruising I had pre-diagnosis as a teenager who played contact sports, I still tend to sport colorful legs. I’m active, and when I’m not teaching, I’m working on the farm where I live or doing other physical tasks. Given how easily I bruise, it’s a given that I will always have some bruises somewhere.

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My bruising was actually what led my doctors down the path of trying to diagnose me. After ruling out serious concerns like leukemia or bleeding disorders, the hunt for something more unusual began, and I was eventually diagnosed with EDS.

I don’t mind people who are curious and accept my answer, but the insensitive people who ask repeatedly what happened to me or where my bruises are from drive me a bit crazy. Do they really expect my answer to be different from what it was last week: a rare genetic disorder? As much as I wish it would, my EDS hasn’t gone away in the intervening days.

When that happens, I try to remind myself that most people ask because they truly care, even if that’s not always how it feels. They may not see their repeated questions as annoying or invasive if they’re coming from a place of genuine concern. Thus, I do my best to just let it roll off my back, remind them of where my bruises come from, and then move on.

I’ve also realized that my answer to the clothing dilemma can change. Like everything with EDS, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. I may be happy going out in shorts today, but decide to wear jeans tomorrow. At work, I’m happy wearing a knee-length skirt some days, but other times I prefer to stick with pants or a maxi skirt. It often depends on what’s on my schedule, but also on how I feel that morning.

I don’t try to hide my EDS, but I also learned long ago that if there’s a day when I don’t feel like dealing with questions or looks, that’s OK. In the grand scheme of life, it’s not worth getting upset about.

Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


Jane Willoughby Woods avatar

Jane Willoughby Woods

I live in a very warm place and wear shorts, even though I need a knee brace for Tibia-Fibia Instability. I want to be attractive, like anyone, but it's too hot for long pants. I smile at my reflection and know that real beauty is from within. My friend suggested I "bling up my brace", and maybe I will. When asked, "Did you hurt your knee?" I laugh and say, "No my knee hurt me!" and leave them guessing.

shela boynton avatar

shela boynton

I would love to wear pedal pusher length or just cropped pants...and I do have things that minimize the appearance of bruises. But, with POTS, I have to wear full-length compression tights, so no choice but to wear long pants. My only consolation is to get a killer pedicure and rock a cute pair of sandals!

Kristine Dhabolt avatar

Kristine Dhabolt

Oh I love a good maxi skirt in the summer. So cool and comfy. Also covers a multitude of questions. I love the look but mostly I love the comfort and the cool breeze. When nobody is around you can hike that badboy up and really cool off. Especially when you are sitting. That's my go to anyway. There are some fun skirts out there. Hope you have fun deciding.

susan avatar


Thank you for addressing this issue! Although not a life-threatening symptom, the bruising and bleeding is a daily reminder that I am not "typical." Some days I cover up, and some days I just bare it all, using the comments from others to educate.

Nina avatar


I have turned my skin into a colorful tattoo canvas which hides some of the odd bruises that pop up. I am not covered, but have enough to take the attention away from other blemishes. Plus I think they are beautiful and get a lot more compliments than questions. Just my story and not for everyone.


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