When inspiring model, actress and barber Rhiannah Rose Blacombe contacted me to join her tribe of vagabonds, misfits and delinquents for a body positive photo shoot and promotional video for the Revolt Union modelling contest, where everyone is welcome, I jumped for joy. After our first intended short phone call to say ‘hi’, which became an over 90 minute soul-stirring discussion, I knew that this girl knows how to spread the much needed to be heard message of self love, promoting positive body image and the importance of embracing diversity, kicking ass to get it done. You see it’s the difference that’s the real quality, making one thing or one person unlike another. And how beautiful is that? At only 23 years old Rhiannah is wise beyond her years. Kind hearted, hard working and such a cool chick to hang out with, full of positive vibes and a very supportive nature, with the qualities of a warrior leader.
Although saying yes without a shadow of a doubt to this project I was well aware I was going to feel vulnerable and exposed. I mean… would you feel confident to be photographed, first thing in the morning so no time to de-wrinkle and with messy hair, not a scrap of makeup and in a 100% no head turning not sassy nude George underwear two piece (no offence to the Asda George undies lovers!). However the message behind this project is so close to my heart, something I do battle with at times, so I knew I couldn’t chicken out. Especially when I found out that finding women for this project proved incredibly difficult, I just had to face a few of my demons and show the real me. The raw me. The one that struggles from time to time behind closed doors but remains hopeful. The one that some days doesn’t like herself as I feel she is not smart, not beautiful or good enough but always gives her best. Showing the raw me that doesn’t hide behind a security blanket of flawless make up and ‘those’ statement clothes with the hurricane, positive and slightly scatty character who just loves people. You see if I got a pound every time someone commented on my dress style I probably could book a flight to Florida with my kids for a fun holiday in the sun! What some people often don’t realise is that behind the makeup, the hats and glasses and my way of dressing there is a lot of insecurity and moments of low self worth caused by past damaging experiences. And you know some days, it takes a lot of strength for me to turn up. Sadly I know I am not the only one feeling like this at times.
I could go down this route a little longer. Especially as I am feeling pretty exhausted at present with life’s challenges, lack of sleep and definitely lack of exercise. Therefore I felt particularly vulnerable, hardly ready to strip off in the not so sexy nude underwear set with no cover up and no help from my best friend Mr. Photoshop. In spite of that I am refusing to go there as I choose not to be a victim of circumstances. I am not just my outside imperfections. I am not just my outfits. I am not defined by all that been said or happened in my past and nor do I have to be the media and other people’s perceptions of what I should be or look like. I really wanted to do this shoot to stand there stripped bare with MY self belief in ME, which is definitely somewhere in there, and show this side of me. To show off my flaws, which we are too often made to feel we must cover up or be embarrassed about. Even apologies for! To show the ones that have said to me I couldn’t, I did. To show the ones that said to me that I wouldn’t, I will. To show the ones that told me I am not good enough and to take a back seat, I definitely will not!
Truthfully when I was shown the raw photograph my initial reaction was a bit of nausea and to hide underneath a big rock (a bit dramatic but you get my point!). But I took and deep breath and a step back and I looked again at the image. I then also saw a 45 year woman who with the middle age spread has given birth to two beautiful children and is enjoying food after years of struggling with healthy eating. I looked again and saw a woman with bags under her eyes. However I could also see a woman that compromises sleep to try and build a career for herself and make her children proud and worries way too much, trying to please others and just trying to be the best version she can be. I looked at the hair that is in desperate need of a colour and a trim. But then I also saw a woman that some days doesn’t have time to brush her hair before rushing out of the door after a night of restless sleep wondering how to make it all work. When I looked at the worry in my eyes. I saw a woman that is determined to turn things around and cares too much and just wants to love and be loved and accepted for who she is.
I honestly couldn’t have done this video shoot if all involved hadn’t been so loving, accepting, welcoming and open about their own stories and insecurities. Jay Hill, Mickey Taylor, Samuel Perkins, Dennis and Peadar Carragher were true super stars. The so called misfits with hearts of gold and making a difference. I am so excited about the future plans Revolt Union has up their sleeve. This project took me back to my first catwalk 4 years ago for the amazing Alt Fashion Fest that’s currently going strong as The Arts & Soul Tribe. Another amazing diverse group of beautiful souls founded by the lovely Jane Bellis who isn’t scared to tackle social misconceptions and is making a real difference. Like that first ever cat walk for Alt Fest I was shaking inside, with that awkward tongue stuck to the roof of a dry mouth and tripping over my two left feet, standing there stripped bare and nowhere to hide.
I so hope this campaign will open people’s eyes and hearts before judging that metaphorical book by its cover, instead of making uncalled for comments about “the state of her/him”. I also hope this campaign will inspire people to embrace their own unique differences and imperfections, standing proud and enjoying life regardless. Like a lovely woman posting on social media yesterday how she is suddenly no longer looking forward to the beach holiday, she worked so hard for. She feels depressed about her body shape and is therefore asking for reassurance from her family and friends. I really wish people wouldn’t be so harsh, but appreciate uniqueness and be that little bit more understanding. We shouldn’t expect “real” people to fit the picture perfect image that’s rammed down our throats daily through the media. I hear people so often compare themselves to others, saying they feel less attractive or unworthy. There really is no win in comparison! As for myself, apart from starting to fit exercise in my daily routine and maybe having the odd early night, I intend to be true to me and a little less harsh. Also give myself more self loving especially on those days I don’t feel good enough. I definitely will keep wearing ‘those clothes’ that might be a little too much at my age and not lose my positivity or determination to keep moving forward and enjoying life to the full.
If you would you like to find out more and be part in Revolt Union’s projects please keep your eyes out for Part 2, where I will be chatting with Rhiannah about her future plans and posting the group images and video. In the meantime be comfortable and be confident in your own skin. I am different. You are different. We are different. Let’s deal with it!