what's essential for you?
“ESSENTIAL”: one word, many interpretations.
There is no right answer to this question, everyone has their own truth. Fantabody has teamed up with I’Mperfetta Agency to raise the voices of four young women through a creative project that focuses on their inner selves and personal lifeviews.
Gaya, Ludovica, Christine and Lucia shared their stories with the Fantastudio team in the form of portraits and interviews that we can now share with you.
LUCIA DELLA RATTA
Hi Lucia, would you like to tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Lucia, I am a health assistant and I have recently finished my master’s degree. I love traveling and fashion, which I am now also working in professionally thanks to the I’Mperfetta project.
Have you ever felt discriminated against or held back just for being 'different'?
There were jokes about my appearance when I was a teenager but luckily nothing too bad. I have always responded in kind and, although it’s very sad, I believe that we have to accept the fact that not everybody has been raised to be sensitive. Being visually impaired, I have to pay attention to my sense of direction, especially in places that I don’t know well or have never been before. I still love traveling despite this, I have done Erasmus in the past and I hope to move to London sooner or later, it’s my favorite city.
Fashion is a great passion of yours, how did it feel when you posed for the first time?
It was an amazing and exciting experience. Posing gives me more self-confidence and it also makes me feel more beautiful.
Lucia, what is essential for you?
For me, it is essential to love life. Unfortunately, life isn’t always kind to us, which is why it is important to hold on to even the smallest positive aspects and always look for the light.
Hi Ludovica, would you like to tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Ludovica, I’m 25, and I’m a Milan-based graphic designer and activist. I am an online activist raising awareness about ‘invisible disabilities’, which are all forms of disability that are invisible to the naked eye, such as my deafness.
How has your disability affected your life, both now and as a child?
As I was born deaf, I immediately learned to live with my disability. I was fitted with a cochlear plant at a young age, which allows me to hear and speak. That earned me the nickname ‘the girl with the bionic ear’. When I was little, lots of people made fun of the way I spoke and I found that certain forms of discrimination continued even in more adult contexts. For example, at university, I would see professors huffing and puffing at my requests to repeat something when perhaps they had spoken too quickly. I have tried in every possible way not to let my disability hold me back, I have always had a go at everything and I am very proud of what I have achieved so far, although there is still a lot of ignorance to tackle.
What does your activism consist of?
I have chosen to use social media as a means of activism to combat the many prejudices about disabled people. Yes, I’m deaf, but that doesn’t stop me from doing anything. I am sure that if there were just more information out there, people would be less afraid of what they don’t know.
Ludovica, what is essential for you?
Essential for me is surrounding myself with people who love me, especially my family, who have always supported my decisions and helped me face my challenges.
Hi Gaya, would you like to tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Gaya, I’m 21 and I’m a business consultant. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was 11 and I am currently one of the most serious cases in Europe.
What was it like finding out that you had this disease and what was your reaction?
Initially the doctors thought it was anorexia, especially because we were going through a hard time as a family at the time. It was only after countless tests and visits that my pain was given a name. After years of suffering without knowing why, it was almost a relief to find out what I had and, as a child with a typically curious nature, I was fascinated by all the procedures. Still today, no definitive cure has been found that would allow me to live peacefully with Crohn’s disease and even recently, I have had to spend long periods in hospital, which is the worst part about it all for me. My stoma, the pouch that I have at stomach level, has had to be moved several times. Today, I have no problem showing it.
How do your loved ones react to your illness?
Personally, I have always chosen to speak freely about my illness, because I think that the more people know, the less they have to fear. My current boyfriend was a little intimidated to ask me questions at first, but I have always shared as much as possible with him. Compared to many other people of my age, I have definitely learned to place much more value on things over the years, which is why I would never wish away this disease because it has made me who I am today.
Gaya, what is essential for you?
For me, the most essential thing in life is running, because if I can run that means I’m OK.
Hi Christine, would you like to tell us a little about yourself?
Hi, I’m Christine, I’m 23 and I currently work as a body positive influencer and activist on social media, as well as a curvy model. It’s hard to sum myself up in a few words, but the first that come to mind are dreamer, idealist and an eternal child who has never stopped believing that this society can change for the better.
Can you tell us a little about the path, which probably wasn’t always easy, that led you to becoming an activist?
I was always a fat child and this was always a problem for the people around me, even my family who were constantly giving me advice on how to lose weight. At school I was pretty much excluded from all group activities. And at age 12, when I got my first crush on the boy who I believed to be my only best friend and he rejected and suddenly abandoned me, I totally closed in on myself and stayed that way all the way through high school. However, when I was 14, I discovered that I suffered from hypothyroidism and polycystic ovary syndrome, both of which contributed greatly to my weight. I had spent my entire childhood and adolescence feeling guilty about something that wasn’t my fault and the absurd thing is that people are so quick to judge without knowing about the diseases that cause these things and which are not our fault.
When did something change?
When I fell in love with my current boyfriend, who made me realize how beautiful and special I am, beyond my weight. Today I use social media to give a voice to that little girl of so many years ago and to anyone like her, so that they don’t have to feel like there is something wrong with them.
Christine, what is essential for you?
For me, forgiveness is essential. Forgiveness towards oneself, towards others, towards society. I believe that forgiveness is even more important than love, because if you are able to forgive, that means that you have love inside you.
The girls wear the Fantabody Essential collection, a basic clothing line handcrafted in Italy from upcycled materials.