The Daily Mail writes a feature about the identity of twin sisters – then completely changes their identity.
Earlier this month, my twin sister Rosie and I were interviewed for the Daily Mail, something we’d never usually agree to, but in this particular instance we were paid for our time and given final say in which words were published.
The title was well written and interesting: “What do these identical twins – one gay, one straight – tell us about the infinite mysteries of human sexuality?”. The article delves into a scientific study which explores choices in visual identity and how they link to sexuality.
The information in the article was accurate, and it did mention some of the science, but it also veered off topic in major ways. Eg. just one set of our school grades and the size of our childhood home. I’m not entirely sure what that has to do with sexuality, but I understand that readers might be nosey.
“We were told we could wear our own clothes, as long as they weren’t stereotypical, clumpy lesbian shoes…”
After talking to a stylist for the accompanying photograph, I was instantly offended. She made derogatory comments about our previous outfit choices, particularly that of “clumpy lesbian shoes” and I’m pretty sure she was talking about my Dr. Martens. Sensing that she was both old fashioned and closed minded, I suggested that if she didn’t want my heavily tattooed arms and legs on show, that she should provide some dresses that are floor-length and long-sleeved. I also thought it would be best to mention that I currently had purple hair, so that clothing colours wouldn’t clash, and finally I described our clothing sizes in detail – dress size 6-8, 27 inch waist, 34 inch leg, and size 5 shoe. She replied “wow, model-like statures”, so I know she heard me.
“Rosie (the lesbian) was forced to wear painful, oversized high heels for the first time in her life…”
The photographer absolutely insisted that we wear the terrible clothes provided, there was no compromise. All clothes provided were all far too big and awful fluorescent colours. Not a single dress was floor-length or long-sleeved and the smallest was a UK size 12 (remember, we are size 6-8). Rosie was forced to wear high heels which she has never worn in her life and the photographer seemed physically annoyed that we didn’t like the clothes. He then used a new lens for half an hour, which he didn’t know how to work, used Rosie’s books to hold down the backdrop, struggled to direct us and relentlessly tried to position me to hide my tattoos from the lens. His flash batteries then died, and due to the poor lighting he kept telling us to move our hair into positions we don’t wear it in. By the time the shoot was over our feet were throbbing and the clown-like makeup was literally dripping from our faces. We just wanted it to be over with.
“My tattoos had been Photoshopped out, without my permission…”
The final image ruined the article for us. We looked ridiculous, like clowns, like strangers. It was creepy. My dress clashed with my hair colour, Rosie’s feet were red from the pain of the hells, we looked at least 15 years older than we are and, my biggest issue – my tattoos had been Photoshopped out, without my permission.
Even if the article wasn’t about our visual identity, which is LITERALLY is, it seems immoral to Photoshop out and hide permanent features of my body, right? Those tattoos express who I am, they are conscious decisions I have made to visually communicate my identity and I did not give them permission to alter my skin.
“Remember, this is an article which literally invites the reader to study photographs of what makes us different from each other…”
If you Google my name, it’s very easy to find photographs of what I actually look like. Both my Facebook profile picture and my Instagram avatar show my tattooed sleeve, so why change who I am in an article which literally invites the reader to study photographs of what makes us different? To study outfits we choose to wear as children but then remove our ability to do that aged 29?
“They took away our control and made us feel embarrassed about who we are…”
They suddenly removed any control we had over our visual identity: our choice to wear what we want (even if it makes us look like cliche lesbians/thugs fresh out of prison) and be ourselves. I don’t recognise those people at all. They made us feel embarrassed about who we really are, the skin we’re covered in, and the clothes that we prefer to dress ourselves in.
Shame on you, Daily Mail. Seriously.
“We felt the need to regain control of our identity, to feel confident again. And we knew just the man who could help us…”
I’ll be truly honest, it was difficult not to cry knowing that such a terrible photograph existed in the press for everyone to see, and had even been picked up by the BBC, being plastered over the morning news. We were devastated.
Luckily, I’m married to the kindest man I know (and the extremely talented Photographer), Mr. Rick Nunn. Together we decided to recreate the photographs, wearing our own clothes, our usual subtle makeup and tried to feel comfortable in front of a camera again.
Rick vlogged about the shoot HERE, it’s brilliant to see our confidence grow, and I’ve posted some of my absolute favourite photos below. This is what the twins ACTUALLY look like, people. Thank you so much, Rick. I don’t think you’ll ever fully understand how much damage you helped restore. We love you.