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Help in School: Victoria Graham is Turning Invisible Illness into Public Awareness

Looking at Victoria Graham, you would never guess that there is anything unusual happening within her body. The Mount St. Mary’s University student, who competes in beauty pageants and recently won a prominent local competition, looks no different standing on stage next to the other equally talented, beautiful women, and you would never guess something was wrong—until she turns around.

Graham has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), an illness that weakens the tissue of the skin and bones, affecting every aspect of her body, and causing hyper-flexibility, dislocation of joints and constant pain. This illness left her with a twenty-five-inch scar that spans the length of her spine. With no way to hide the scar, she walks across the stage during pageants in bikinis and backless dresses. For the talent portion, where she performs a monologue designed to educate her audience on EDS, Graham dons a tailored hospital gown, leaving her back exposed.