But what people don’t realize is that her iconic style was partially born out of her desire to cover up, having been born with a genetic disorder that leaves her skin scarred and hyperpigmented, as she explains in Episode 2 of The Real Housewives of New York City, airing Sundays at 9/8c on Bravo.
Her condition comes up when she gifts the other ‘Wives lingerie during their weekend getaway to Erin Lichy‘s home in Sag Harbor, New York. When Jessel Taank mentions that her silk nightie is a bit conservative in comparison to the others’, Jenna says that hers is the most since it’s “a lot of fabric.”
And when Erin proposes that they all model their lingerie later that night, Jenna kindly mentions she won’t be participating in the fashion show. As she puts it, “This will not be happening in front of anybody.”
“You will see behind closed doors why I cannot,” Jenna continued. “I have a pretty rare genetic disorder. That’s why I never show any skin.”
She then shows her arms and hands, which have hyper-pigmentation. The one area of her body that is not impacted by the disorder is her chest. Jenna shared, “That’s why it’s often on display.”
What genetic disorder does Jenna Lyons have?
In recent interviews, Jenna has shared that she was diagnosed with Incontentia Pigmenti, a rare genetic disorder that largely impacts her skin, teeth, and hair.
The condition commonly appears at birth or in the first weeks of infancy and is one of a group of neurocutaneous disorders, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Over time, those with the condition may develop rashes or lesions, experience hair loss, or have missing or misshapen teeth.
For Jenna, her condition has had a huge impact on her appearance — though you wouldn’t know it by looking at her. She told The View hosts, “All my teeth are fake. I paid a lot of money for them.”
“My hair is also fake. I can take it off. It’s like a hat. It’s not a wig,” she shared. “My eyelashes are fake. I have no eyebrows, and I also have scars all over my skin.”
Though Jenna feels insecure about her appearance at times, she recognizes that, without her condition, she might not be the businesswoman she is now. In addition to being the former president and creative director of J. Crew, she’s the co-CEO and founder of LoveSeen, a brand that sells fake, cruelty-free eyelashes.
“It’s one of the reasons I went into fashion,” Jenna said. “I wanted to look better. I was constantly trying to find ways to fit in.”