What Disease Does Sia Have?

Pop singer Sia has been in the media a lot lately. In the past decade, the celebrity had multiple hit songs, such as “Chandelier” and “Cheap Thrills,” and she’s received critical praise for blending pop sensibilities with more artistic and experimental aesthetics and approaches. Many people who have enjoyed Sia’s music may not know the details of her life, her history in the industry, and any particular struggles she might have, as she likes to remain private. However, this doesn’t mean that Sia has been silent: she has discussed her various struggles and triumphs in interviews and on social media. Among these struggles is a neurological condition that causes chronic pain. So what is this condition, and how has it affected Sia’s life and career?

Sia smiling in front of a white background with repeating logos
Sia | Desiree Navarro/Getty Images

What is Sia’s career like?

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Though Sia hit the mainstream relatively recently, she has been in the music industry for decades. In the 1990s, she was involved in the jazz world, in a group called Crisp, and as a backup vocalist for various jazz-inspired groups like Jamiroquai. Her first solo album with a major record label came in 2001, and through the 2000s she continued to release music. She was successful, though in the early 2010s she took a break to work as a songwriter, producing hits such as Rihanna’s “Diamonds” and Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones.” Sia’s first major solo hit was “Chandelier” in 2014, and her aesthetic choices garnered a lot of attention — hiding her face behind wigs and collaborating closely with a young dancer named Maddie Ziegler.

She was a critical darling and used this success to branch out into other creative ventures. Most recently, she released a film entitled Music with an accompanying soundtrack album. However, this film received a lot of criticism for its dangerous and inaccurate portrayal of autism. Sia was criticized for her ableist behavior, including ignoring autistic artists and activists, promoting practices that have lead to the deaths of autistic people, and working with Autism Speaks, an organization that much of the autistic community considers harmful to actually autistic people. Sia’s poor response to this controversy culminated in low reviews for the film and her removing herself from social media, though it also led to increased recognition of autistic voices and self-advocacy.

What is Sia’s personal life like?

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Sia has been notably quiet about her personal life, going so far as to keep her face covered much of the time. However, she has discussed personal issues in her music: the death of a close partner, addictions, mental illness, and queer identity. She has also been involved in animal rights activism, including participation in documentaries and public service announcements decrying animal cruelty in the fashion, food, and pet industries. She’s even promoted pet adoption at her tours, partnering with local rescues to help increase adoption. Clearly, this cause is very important to her.

What neurological disorder does Sia have?

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According to WebMD, Sia has a condition known as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. This condition affects the body’s connective tissues, and among other symptoms, it causes chronic pain. This is not something she discusses frequently, but she has posted about it on social media in the past. Her tweeting about her experience with chronic illness brought a lot more attention to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, as many people were not even aware of its existence before. It’s clear: the massive platforms that celebrities have can lead the broader public to learn more about struggles shared by many.