"I was on a runway and thinking, what do I do?"

By Claire Gillespie
April 20, 2021
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Since she revealed her multiple sclerosis diagnosis to the world in October 2018, Selma Blair hasn't shied away from sharing what it's like to live with this autoimmune disorder. Now, she's opening up to the one early MS symptom that made her realize something wasn't right with her body.

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Credit: Getty Images

It was February 2018, and she was set to walk in a New York Fashion Week show for designer Christian Siriano, Blair reveals in a new interview with Town & Country. On the runway, she noticed a loss of sensation in one of her legs. Although she'd had similar symptoms before, she didn't think they were significant. But this time, it was different.

"It was on that runway, with the thrill of walking in the show, that I suddenly lost feeling in my left leg," she told the magazine. "But I was on a runway and thinking, What do I do?"

In February, Blair shared images of that night in 2018 fashion show on her Instagram page, revealing then that she noticed her leg was numb. "When I first stepped out. I couldn't feel the ground or how to lift my left leg. My brain was trying to compute. As I walked the runway, stunned," she wrote in the caption.

Six months after the runway show, in August 2018, Blair was diagnosed with MS, a chronic, progressive illness that affects the central nervous system. Though she'd had symptoms for years that she attributed to other causes, it wasn't until a doctor found lesions on her brain via an MRI scan that Blair discovered she had MS. Numbness is a common symptom of the condition.

The actress made her diagnosis public via Instagram. "I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken GPS," she wrote alongside a photo of a wardrobe fitting for the Netflix show Another Life.

In February 2019, Blair, who is mom to son Arthur, 9, made headlines when she appeared at the Vanity Fair Oscars party with her cane.

Talking to Town & Country about the party, she said, "It was a no-brainer, and there was no choice." Yes, she needed her cane to help her walk, but this was no ordinary cane. It was truly red-carpet ready, monogrammed by Blair's manicurist with gel polish and jewels.

"I hadn't been on a red carpet for so long, and now I was coming," Blair said. "I knew, since my diagnosis, people might be watching. I didn't know if I would be forgotten about and be the last one on the red carpet."

Blair looked sensational on the red carpet, and the glamorous aspects of her career (as well as being known for her roles in Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde, and The Sweetest Thing, she's starred in campaigns for Chanel, Miu Miu, and Gap) are important to her on a deeper level.

"I've been made up by some of the most famous makeup artists since I started acting, and I've felt so transformed by their makeup that I really did become a different person," she told Town & Country. "It was a superpower to me, and I mean this. Makeup is not trivial to me. If anything moves the needle for me in my life—even before my diagnosis or challenges—it is my gorgeous war paint."

She added, "I don't mind if my muscles get caught at the intersection of a slow brain signal. I just want those words to come from lips covered in Chanel gloss."

Blair also shared that she is "very comfortable" in her body, which she attributes to "now making a deeper positive connection with it." "I am fascinated by this body and this life," she said. "I am humbled and pleased to be any inspiration for people."

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