Real Talk with Evelyn Riddell

Evie is a history student at the University of Toronto, an active member of the type one diabetes community, and she just so happens to be fearless wearing a bra in front of a camera! Read on for more of her story and why she wanted to join our latest #AerieREAL photoshoot.

EvelynRidell

What made you want to join this #AerieREAL bra photoshoot?

Aerie has been my favourite store for many years. I started out with wearing their clothes, and then ended up loving their message. I often looked at their photos in store and on social media, wondering if I could ever be a part of their movement, but at first I thought my Type One Diabetes would somehow disqualify me. After all, I had never seen anyone like myself represented before. I had faith, however, that if any store could change this, it would be Aerie! When I saw the contest opportunity on their Instagram, I decided to take a chance and apply. I hoped that I would be given the opportunity to not only make my dream come true, but to represent all Type One diabetics and give them a voice.

You’re on our site rocking a bra and an insulin pump, and people everywhere (us included!) are so inspired by you. How does it feel to represent the diabetic community?  

It has been absolutely surreal! When I was diagnosed, one of the first things I noticed was how incredibly supportive the Type One community is. From the very beginning I have been an active member of this community, and I am forever grateful for the lessons, friends and opportunities it has given me. It feels amazing to be giving back, and be representing Type Ones within the #AerieREAL movement. I’ve heard from countless individuals saying how this campaign is the first time they’ve seen themselves represented in the media. I have received messages from tweens, teens, adults, and parents of young children. Many individuals have even sent me photos wearing their Continuous Glucose Monitors [CGM] or insulin pumps visibly for the first time. My hope is that one day soon it won’t be a single campaign representing the community, but Type One representation will be so normalized that we’ll see devices worn confidently, and blood sugar checks done proudly everywhere… until there’s a cure!!

Have you seen representation of people with diabetes in the media before? How has it (or the lack of it) affected you?

The only time I see Type One representation in the media is when I’m actively looking for it. That’s why the type one community is so important, because it provides us with examples of individuals thriving and proudly living with Type One Diabetes. Without these, there really isn’t representation within “mainstream” media. There is a narrative of general “diabetes” within advertising, which leads to many misunderstandings about the differences between Type One and Type Two diabetes. Because of this incomplete narrative I have received many rude or ignorant comments about my personal health. I have been subjected to comments from both my peers and strangers, ranging from my eating habits to their reasons for my diagnosis, and even my body type. This was not easy to deal with as a 12 year old girl already struggling with self-confidence and body positivity. This is why representation of Type One Diabetes is so important, because it can educate people and help breakdown harmful misconceptions. I know that this campaign would have meant the world to a me at 12 years old, and I hope that it will mean just as much to everyone else.BTS2_Carousel_Bras_2_2

Tell us about your experience on the shoot!

The shoot was absolutely incredible! One of the most empowering, exciting and fulfilling days of my life! Every single person on set genuinely believes in Aerie’s message. Their first priority was making sure all the models felt comfortable and safe. Wearing just a bra and underwear can be intimidating, especially with flashing lights and cameras pointed at you. This being said, I never felt anything other than comfortable and was surprised how natural it all felt. As someone with Type One diabetes, Aerie made sure there was always food in case I went low, and were all eager to learn more about how my devices worked. I arrived beyond excited yet very nervous, and by the end of the day, left feeling like I had a new family.

What makes you #AerieREAL?

I’m not perfect, far from it, but I’m trying my best! I’m real about this, and I want people to know it! When it comes to my Type One Diabetes, I don’t want to pretend that it’s not difficult. Growing up I was always a perfectionist, but type one has helped teach me that there is no such thing as “perfect”. Having a chronic illness means learning to accept both the highs and the lows, and being content with knowing you’re trying your best. I wear my insulin pump and CGM proudly, because without it I can’t grow, mature and live the life I want to.

 

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