New project helps people who suffer from chronic illnesses became ‘Chronically Fabulous’ with a makeover and photoshoot

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Local photographer Debbie Deboo has teamed up with model Felicity McKee to create ‘Chronically Fabulous’, a project aimed at making people with chronic illness and disabilities look and feel fantastic.

With the help of a team of volunteer photographers, hairdressers and make up artists, Debbie and Felicity help to transform ‘models’ and give them a much needed boost of self confidence.

As well as getting a complete makeoever and photos, the models also get a goodie bag with some special treats, which are donated by local businesses.

This project is about fun, fashion, feeling good, looking good and helping everyone to understand that being ill or disabled doesn’t mean either that someone has to be hidden from view or can’t be every bit as glamorous as the healthy and the able-bodied.

“With a top-class makeover, the models, who of course do not have to have any previous modelling experience, get the chance to express their identity, talk about their chronic condition, which can then be shared on the project’s Facebook page, and dress as glamorously and fashionably and however they want to – the important thing is that the model feels good in what they’re wearing and which makes them look good,” explained Debbie, who hosted the first photoshoot in July at her studio in Upper Ballinderry.

“This is all about people coming together in a positive environment that supports and promotes those with illness or disability being seen, being visible, and being able to express themselves and their identity.

“After the session, the models have the opportunity to purchase high-quality photographs as well as, of course, continue to participate in the ever-growing Chronically Fabulous community on social media.”

One of the eight models on the first shoot was Sarah Henderson from Moira, who is recovering from an eating disorder which she has battled since she was a teenager.

“It turned out to be a bit of therapy,” explained Sarah.

“I was very nervous when I was doing it.

“I would have struggled with getting out and doing that sort of thing but it definitely boosted my confidence.

“I felt I had a bit of a victory after it.”

The lone male model at the first shoot was Patrick Taggart, who suffers froma rare blood condition.

Patrick is also recovering from prostate cancer and, despite being surrounded by women on the day, he had a fantastic time.

“I thought it would be an interesting day,” explained Patrick.

“I wanted to meet new people and to help in a small way to change the way chronically ill people are perceived.

“We are surrounded all the time by pictures of healthy, beautiful people and those of us with chronic health conditions can feel uninvolved and invisible.

“I really enjoyed the day. I met some lovely people, was warmly welcomed and found it fascinating to watch the photographers at work and hear about people’s lives. I would definitely recommend it to others.”

To see all the photos from tyhe Chronically Fabulous photoshoot log onto www.facebook.com/chroncially fabulous.

Patrick would like to encourage men to keep a careful eye on their health and if they are concerned they should log onto www.prostatecanceruk.org for information and advice.