First and foremost what ya'll need to know is that I do not think of myself as a model. I definitley take a lot of Instagram photos and I do my best to feel beautiful and to promote self love, but a model!? No way. Although, that all changed on the 29th of December 2017.
I received a very cool Instagram message from a very colorful, vibrant and kind young lady known as Chrissa Sparkels! She's stunning and a literal pink fairy on this brown earth. She basically said she loved my look and would love if I could be in a photoshoot for a t-shirt that she designed for her clothing line!
Something else you should know before I go on- I am very lucky to have met Tess Holliday, an American plus sized model. We become friends, and she has been very supportive of me and my look and welcomed me into her #EFFYOURBEAUTYSTANDARDS community through Instagram. So none other than Tess Holliday referred me to Chrissa SparkIes! I was baffled, here I was a woman with Arthrogryposis bound to a wheelchair with this incredible opportunity. An opportunity that could show a lot of people that no matter the disability, you can still be fashionable, sexy and confident! I of course went straight to Chrissas page and checked her out! She has over 63,000 followers, and she creates these amazing garments filled with color and love! How on earth did I get lucky enough to be introduced to her? And to be asked to be apart of her clothing line. I instantly replied and said "YES!"
So, I learned that this photoshoot wasn't only for her clothing line and for the t-shirt she designed, it was also a campaign to fight cat calling! And that a portion of the proceeds from the shirt would go towards organizations that benefit individuals who have suffered from sexual harassment, abuse, and rape. How beautiful is that, and i wasn't the only lady lucky enough to be photographed, I was surrounded by seven other beautiful women of all types. Seven lovely ladies who were entrepreneurs, who were YouTubers, models, and all together inspirations. I suddenly got so nervous. How could I fit in with all these ladies? A little chubby cripple girl, sitting in a hunk of metal. How will I shine in these photos, what if I'm just an eye sore? What if my wheelchair gets in the way?
The day of the photo shoot came and I was so nervous I even felt sick. I insisted my boyfriend come along, so I was comfortable with at least ONE person there. The whole car ride to Los Angeles, he tried reminding me that I'm a strong charasmatic lady. That I'm social and outgoing and I'll instantly become friends with everyone there, but I just couldn't get past this anxiety I was feeling. I'm a singer, I'm great at being on stage, I love performing and interacting with my audience. There is no problem there, but being in front of a camera scares the bloody hell out of me. Due to my disability I am incapable of lifting my arms so my poses are limited. Amongst my other insecurities such as my chubby face, big thighs, and acne. How was this going to work, I'm going to let Chrissa Sparkles and Tess Holiday down!
Ya'll...IT WAS EPIC
I didn't let ANYONE down. As soon as I arrived Chrissa was so uplifiting and kind, I felt so welcome. Then I met the girls! Oh my gosh, I cannot express how diverse and freaking beautiful all these humans were! And, they were all different shapes and sizes and ethnicities. We were all so imperfect which made us all so PERFECT! I have never been surrounded by such beauty before. Not one of these gals were rude, arrogant, or self involved. They were all kind, genuine and all together great human beings that I'm so honored to have been able to work with. I felt so welcomed and comfortable. I felt like I belonged there. Not only were the models great, but the photographer was the sweetest most gentle human I've met in a long time. She made me feel gorgeous, and model-worthy. She told me how to pose and directed me with such ease. And Chrissa, she encourged us all. It was such an uplifting experience that will stay with me forever.
So there I was, surrounded by beauty. Now lets talk about the tee! Chrissa out did herself! It's pink, with a white collar and on the front is a big lush cat with multi colored eyes, on a rotary telephone. And above was the phrase "Fuck Cat Calling". Chrissa Sparkles managed to get a serious point across in such a sweet and cute way.
This tee gave me confidence and made me feel lovely at the same time. Being a woman I have experienced cat calling, it started when I was only in junior high. I remember rolling home from school with a group of my gal pals and men would hollar at us, and say very inappropriate things to a group of 13 year old girls. Now as a grown woman, I still experience this from time to time. It's horrible and not flattering in any which way. Being apart of this campaign was so heart warming and heart breaking at the same time. Every one of us women had experienced cat calling, and harrassment and that is so sad to me. So, if any of you have experienced cat calling or any type of harassment, know that you're not alone, and it's not your fault.
If you like the design and message, then feel free to visit ChrissaSparkles.com and order one of these empowering crop tops!
I hope you enjoy some of the photos from the shoot!
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Photography by: Iris Ray @Irrisrray