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SA’s first diabetes stock photo shoot

SA's first diabetes stock photo shoot

This is Sweet Life ( – me and Pitsi. Yesterday we did a Thing, and I am actually so proud that I want to share it.

We pulled off SA’s first diabetes stock photo shoot (with the help of the ever-lovely @mikerosephoto).

It was weeks of work. Weeks! It felt like building a very complicated Lego structure, piece by piece by piece.

We asked for community volunteers as models, chose 10 (to represent different ages, races, genders and body sizes), found the perfect location. I drew up a shot list to cover everything from diabetes basics (testing, injecting, taking medicine) to healthy lifestyle shots (cooking healthy food, exercising in nature) to shots we can use to talk about mental health and community and advocacy.

Then came the tricky part – figuring out which models to use in which shot, so that it looked both representative and authentic… and considered everything from gender norms to weight stigma and heteronormativity. I redid it countless times.

I also fed everyone: 16 people, 13 of whom have diabetes, on an all-day shoot. Threw in a bit of food styling that I didn’t realize would be necessary, thanks to years of watching @carogardnersa in action (thanks Caro!)

I was so nervous, so out of my comfort zone, juggling so many balls.

But oh! What a day.

Friends, it went SO well. The people were amazing. So willing to show up and do whatever was necessary to portray South Africans with diabetes in the healthy, happy light we deserve. So present. So full of joy.

The next step is epic.

Once the photos are ready, we’ll upload them to Unsplash – the free media library that anyone (all over the world, but we’re mainly excited about SA) can use. We’ll tag them with all the right diabetes keywords, and we have a whole campaign around language and imagery to share with the South African media and healthcare providers.

For the first time ever, an image search for ‘diabetes’ in SA won’t primarily show a plate of sugar.

It’s about representation, and reducing stigma from the ground up, and telling a different story about diabetes, and friends I am so proud to have made it happen. I just wanted to share 💙

Published inInspiring

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