Body image. A topic everyone is talking about, yet no-one is entirely comfortable talking about. Add a disability into the mix, especially one which is visible, and you’ll find yourself wheel-deep in a hot mess of insecurities.
Last Wednesday I went to a photoshoot. It was bloody hilarious. Those who know me, know I’m a ‘jeans ‘n’ t-shirt’ kinda gal and that the first sign of a mini skirt has me unsuccessfully running for the hills. Couple this with the fact that I was going with two of the most glamorous girls on the planet (one of whom is a professional model), and I couldn’t help but think I’d stick out like a sore thumb. Having said that, I thought it’d be hypocritical of me not to jump at the opportunity. After all, I’m trying to forge my career on the foundations of disability confidence with a touch of my inner hippy, positive vibes. I also had the inkling that the experience would be 100% blog-worthy, so why not give it a shot?
Luckily for me, my modelling friend has enough clothes to fill all the Highstreet stores and she dresses in the stuff that my inner hippy’s dreams are made of. So, after I sent her an SOS stating that she needed to raid her wardrobe and dress me (both literally and metaphorically) we were onto a winner. All that was left to do was to turn up and get glammed up.
The thing I’ve discovered based on the studio we went to, is that photoshoots are not disabled friendly as we arrived with all our gear which resembled a month’s worth of packing. I can honestly say, fitting everything into the disabled loo where there was barely enough room to swing a cat, let alone get out of your wheelchair and pee, was like trying to fit an extra uncooperative sardine into a tin. At one point my friend was straddling the toilet in a fatal attempt to stop me sliding off and creating a puddle on the floor. The changing rooms weren’t much better, as evidenced in our increasing ‘healthy glow’ every time we emerged from behind the door in a different outfit. Up close and personal springs to mind.
Joking aside, it was a fabulous day. We laughed hard and we looked good too. It’s always a fine line to tread when you put a disabled person in front of a camera. I’m not saying our disabilities make us unphotogenic because that would transport us back to a time where we weren’t seen or heard. But there is so much that has to be thought about…The poses we can’t get ourselves into, the angles that do nothing other than emphasise our ‘disabled looks’, the pouting we can’t achieve due to cerebral palsy not allowing our faces to do such things and above all, how insecure we are about our disability.
For every cloud, there’s a silver lining. I fully appreciate that I’ve never had a major issue in sharing my life with CP and I know not everyone is the same. For me, the best shot of the day was the one above. I was totally in the moment and in stitches at the fact that my friend, who is a Moving and Handling Coordinator, had to break every rule in the book to get me onto a throne for the sake of a few snaps. This was made all the funnier when I began to slide off the plush leather seat which was far too deep for my dwarf-sized legs, meaning I ended up lying on my back in the throne instead of gracefully sitting upon it. The rigmarole was resolved when my friend decided to simply hold me up and skillfully duck out of the shot. As cliché as it might sound, that moment wouldn’t have been captured if it wasn’t for my CP and my friend who was propping me up in the background. A perfect illustration of my life.
Keep being awesome folks!