A new year is right around the corner, so you might be looking to replace your calendar in preparation for 2016. Look no further than the T1D Exposed calendar, a 365 day reminder of the strength and beauty of individuals affected by type 1 diabetes.
If you’re wondering what exactly “T1D Exposed” means, the short answer is that the calendar is a compilation of tasteful nude portraits of people with diabetes. Before you start scratching your head in confusion, learn about the mission of this project and what makes it an empowering medium for diabetes awareness, self-confidence, and acceptance. I spoke with the founders, Kat Reed and Tara Layman, to find out the story behind the calendar.
How did T1D Exposed get started? Who founded it?
T1D Exposed started off a joke. Tara was telling Kat about her photography thesis project involving type 1 diabetes. The girls joked about how great it would be to do a diabetes themed nude calendar like the Calendar Girls to raise money. We kept joking about it, and kept joking about it, and eventually decided we had to do it. We are both involved with multiple amazing diabetes organizations that are all incredibly worthy causes for fundraising. It can be so hard to ask friends and family for money to support all the amazing avenues of research and support out there. This was a solution– a creative way to give back to three extremely meaningful diabetes communities while creating a conversation around body acceptance and type one awareness. Tara has been the calendar photographer the last two years, and Kat functioned as the Project Manager.
What was the vision for the project?
What started off as a joke between friends turned into something beautiful as we recruited people to participate in the project. It is interesting that diabetes is often called an invisible disease. Sometimes it feels anything but invisible with the bumps and bruises, scar tissue and patches of sticky adhesive residue, gadgets and tubing, and constant beeping. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Diabetes can definitely leave its mark on your body, and we feel this is especially apparent when naked. During their photo shoots, T1Ds shared stories of struggle and acceptance, of eating disorders, and finding peace. There was a lot of laughing and a lot of crying. The love for bodies and all their amazing abilities, and the exasperation of living with a chronically ill body that requires so much mental attention to keep alive really resonated with us. It’s about acknowledging the struggle and changes to your life and body while celebrating your existence and abilities. The calendar reminds us to practice gratitude for all the amazing things are bodies are able to accomplish each day with insulin.
Who models for the T1D Exposed calendar? How do you find these individuals?
We advertised through our Facebook page that we were looking for participants and that all ages, genders, ethnicities, and body types are welcome! Anyone who wants to be a part of the project can message us through our website. It’s a big decision for people, and a very vulnerable process. We are so honored that people choose to share themselves and their stories with us.
What is the most challenging aspect of the T1D Exposed project?
For the founders, one of the most challenging parts of the project is finding time to do everything that needs to be done to produce a quality calendar while finding time to sleep and keep up with their day jobs. It has gotten so big, which is a wonderful challenge to have.
What is the most rewarding aspect of the T1D Exposed project?
This year, each participant’s photo showcases a passion of theirs–something that their T1D body allows them to do. The most rewarding part is getting to hear so many people’s stories and experiences, and feeling the hope and determination that drives each participant to pursue their passions. Our most recently diagnosed participant has had type 1 a little over a year, and our longest diagnosed participant has been living with T1D for 62 years. There is so much knowledge to be shared and so much support to be given and received in this incredible type 1 community. We receive many messages through the website from people thanking us for doing the project and telling us it has inspired them in some way.
Is there anything else you would like to say about T1D Exposed?
Here is a message from the T1D Exposed website: “My name is Stephanie and I’ve had type 1 for 18 years now. I’ve never let it stop me from doing anything in my life (I am a head chef, motorcycle-riding, Zumba and hip hop dance instructor). But diabetes has always been a struggle with my self-image. Seeing some of the photos you’ve taken has made me proud to wear a CGM and an Omnipod. I’m no longer embarrassed to go to the beach or show someone my tattoo and have them ask what “that thing” is. Because in all of your photos it shows a story, not just a device. Thank you for this. It means more to me than you know.” –Stephanie
Here are links to our three beneficiaries:
Purchase your calendar at www.t1dexposed.org for $20.