I have a confession; we did this shoot 6 months ago and then I totally failed to sort out releasing it.
Here's the thing; everyone on this shoot has hidden illnesses - expect to learn lots of new acronyms from this shortly. I have hidden illnesses; my entire life is seriously limited by them. But even my own family often forget this, because I look fine.
Every time I sat down to write about it, I got completely overwhelmed because this is the reality of every single day for me and thinking about it in its totality is just a bit bloody much, this year.
Anyway, eventually I went to therapy and had a bit of a cry about how I had spent the whole of my 30's ill, so here we go.
Because I'm ill (pain, fatigue, digestive system doesn't work, genitals are allergic to themselves, brain does random farts a lot, blood doesn't clot, you name it, it's broken, except for the hair) I tend to ask folks what adaption they need to make events work for them. And thus, when I went through the people who applied to come and take pictures with us, I noticed quite a few with hidden illnesses. Which seemed, you know, like, A Thing
(I swear this how some men think we always dress for work)
We'd already booked Claire Seville, who is very good at working with people who haven't done modelling before. Fontaine's had very generously offered to let us shoot there, and is one of the few bars in London that boasts a ground floor, plus it smells nice ("costs a fortune in essential oils" said the boss woman cheerfully). Words cannot express how badly most night venues smell in the day, which when you have hypersensitive senses is a bit of an issue!
I asked Sammm Agnew and Emma Watts to join us on hair and make-up, as both of them have considerable experience working with illness and disability; when I came down at one point they were embroiled in a very detailed discussion of the finer points of mental health diagnostic issues!
With Maz on styling and Lydia on video and timekeeping, we cracked through an amazing number of shots and sessions and I'm hugely grateful for everyone who contributed their time and energy, not least the models themselves.
(Left to right: Emma Watts, Amy (back), Sophia, Lydia (back), Rebecca (back), Samm, Samantha (back), Catherine (me), Johanna (back), Jopie (middle), Maz)
Keep watching as over the next week or so we plan to pervert the usual commercial fantasies about how a brand magically imbues you with confidence, or sex appeal or whatever, or indeed about how all our models might be assassins, and trip you up into learning and thinking about illness and disability instead! Or at least that's the hope.
(Rebecca made a corset cake and it's a model of Karolina Laskowska's graduate collection! It was tasty)
Speaking about the commercial aspect; being ill is really expensive. Scope, the UK's national charity for people with disabilities, reckon on average it's around £550 a month. So yes, also the campaign will be tied to special offers, because whilst all businesses need to sell things, I also need to sell more, to cover my extra healthcare expenses :)
You might know one or two people with a hidden illness, what do you think?