Anorexia and Uncommon London – By @GCopywrite
By Gigi Rice
Anorexia and Uncommon London
For those of you that know me- I say things how they are.
So, last Wednesday, I told my fellow classmates that I didn’t really “get” Uncommon London’s The Guardian campaign. The whole, “Change is possible, Hope is power” thing. Like cute sentiment but does it actually say anything? As for the yellow poster butterfly design like that’s sort of nice cause we all know butterflies are once caterpillars but beep beep unoriginal alert.
I also noticed that twitter had been going mad for it but a lot of it seemed to be only circulating within the Ad industry. In my opinion, that is very flattering and we all like to feel that we’re making great work but, if ordinary people aren’t saying shit. It’s failed as a campaign.
Change is possible. Hope is power. It felt like vanilla ice cream or an averagely written adaptation of some Jodie Picoult book.
Post mulling over these thoughts with the SCA’ers sat at my table. I just got on with my day.
At 4:15, I get a text from my Mum saying that she is in A n E with one of my oldest childhood friends. I had my suspicions what was up. Busy lives and International education had dominated our lives for the past two years so I hadn’t seen her after she received her diagnosis of Crohn’s disease. Not fun.
But, over Instagram I had noticed her shrinking. At first, the posts came thick and fast with the weightloss from the restrictive Crohns diet, and then were less frequent and more worrying.
So when I rocked up at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, I knew what she was there for.
We hugged and I drew up a chair in the Urgent Care unit which was literally 5 chairs all aligned next to some beds, just off the main Accident and Emergency waiting area.
The honest truth is that she looked fucking awful. Jaundiced. Teeth too big for her mouth and entirely skeletal.
There was a couple sitting next her opposite me and another lady next to my Mum. The next sentence that my friend said, I reckon I’ll probably remember forever. Not for what it said but the sheer audacious delivery of such.
“Yeah I’ve got REALLY bad anorexia nervosa”
I almost laughed.
She knew everyone in the tiny waiting area was listening so F it. She jut came straight out with it at a decibel not usually used in hospital.
As we waited for the results of her phosphate levels, the whole story unfolded. From exercise routines to chucking her food out of the window at private Swiss hospitals, she told it all.
It was ugly.
It was upsetting.
It was honest.
It was beautiful.
It marked the flip of a coin, the moment you hit rock bottom so hard that your legs break and all you can do is admit that you’re there. From what I’ve found, rock bottom can be a pretty solid foundation from which to build up again.
I loved how everyone around us was listening to the conversation. I hope they truly HEARD it. Not just sat uncomfortably as a girl with a resting heartbeat of 23 beats a minute, talked about how she was scared of death because the doctors had told her that it was rapidly coming if she didn’t change.
It brought me back to Uncommon’s work.
“Change is possible. Hope is power”.
And suddenly the words lifted themselves up off the poster campaign and sat right across from me.
The genericism that I had criticised a few hours prior, made perfect and utter sense.
It’s a message that is superficially general but then solely individual and specific at the same time.
I left the hospital with my friend, with those words singed into my heart, as though a farmer had been branding his livestock with them, and I involuntarily had lined up too.
The butterfly emblem came to life and skimmed over my head as I thought, yeah I may have seen it used as metaphor before but, it’s true. And isn’t all good art and advertising, based from the truth? The truth is the sole thing that connects us to audiences. Even in fairytales. Whilst few of us have owned a pink bricked castles- the way the heart longs and aches, is real.
Change is possible. Hope is power.
Because change IS possible. Nothing that my friend has done to herself, can’t be undone or remoulded.
Hope IS power. Because when you see the light at the end of a tunnel, it propels you to run forwards towards it.
And when we go and can see that there is a “forwards”, the dark is left behind.
Or at least if you’re still in the dark, there’s the constellations pseudo astrologists like myself call Hope. That way your eyes can adjust out of the inky blackness and truly see what’s happening.
So change is possible. And hope is power.
And there’s a young woman in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, speaking her truth loudly- living proof of such.
So Uncommon London,
May I please have a few prints of those?
I’mma hang them on every damn wall.