It can be really tough to live with an illness nobody can see—and that’s the reality for the millions of women who have endometriosis, a chronic condition that occurs when tissue from the lining of the womb is found outside of the womb, in the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, the abdomen, and the bladder.
One of these women, UK-based makeup artist Andrea Baines, 34, decided to do something to show the pain of the disease, and the result is a set of powerful, graphic images.
“It’s traumatic enough for the sufferer to deal with the pain, without feeling like they’re lying about their condition,” Baines told Australian parenting website Kidspot. “It can be extremely isolating to live with a condition that nobody can see. My pain feels like there’s a sharp, hot needle inside me, being scraped against my internal organs, and like my insides are being ripped out.”
Baines applied realistic makeup to the body of her model, Rachel Berwick—someone else who knows exactly what life with endometriosis is like. “She chose me because she wanted someone who could bring the idea to life, and since I suffer with endometriosis on a daily basis, I definitely know what that pain feels like,” said Berwick. “It has to be one of the most meaningful, rewarding, personal photo shoots I’ve ever been a part of. And it was made especially realistic by the fact that most of the facial expressions you can see in the images aren’t faked—they’re of me genuinely struggling with my pain.”
The images—captured by photographer Emma Wilson—are raw and shocking, which is exactly what Baines hoped for. She wanted to highlight how endometriosis is different than regular period pain, and not something to be dismissed as simply part of being a woman.
“I know the image I created with special effects makeup is shocking, but that was the idea: I wanted to grab attention, and get people talking about it. And that’s exactly what it’s doing,” she said. “There absolutely needs to be more awareness raised about endometriosis. It’s not okay when one in ten women suffer from endometriosis, and still many people haven’t even heard about endometriosis.”
Hopefully, Baines’ brave images will encourage other women to speak out about their endometriosis and increase public understanding about this brutal invisible illness.
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