T1D Exposed — the Nude Calendar that Bares All

WRITTEN BY: Michelle Boise

Meet Tara Layman and Kat Reed, founders of T1D Exposed, a group dedicated to promote awareness, to connect others living with Type 1 and to raise funds for diabetes organizations. Want to know how they’re achieving their goals? You may have guessed by the sneak peek, but there’s more to T1D Exposed than meets that eye. They’ve not only launched a nude diabetes advocacy calendar that showcases beautiful and empowered Type 1s, but they’ve also delved into their incredible stories of struggle and triumph. Ranging from one and a half years with diabetes to 60, their models capture the conglomerate of the Type 1 experience. At the heart of it all, they aim to bring to the forefront that T1D changes one’s body and it affects even more than the physical.

Many think of Type 1 as an invisible disease, but Tara and Katie feel differently. “It is visible,” says Tara. “It leaves scars and there are devices you’re wearing. When you take off your clothes, you see it.” In the hope to bring awareness to the disease, they also want to celebrate the body in its resilience along with the enduring human spirit.

Needless to say, we wanted to know more.

BT1: Disrobing can be unnerving, especially when your photo is going to be printed and distributed to the public. How did you find volunteers?

Katie: The first year, we were able to source from the Type 1 community, but this year a couple dozen people were interested, (some even applied from out-of-state), and studio space was donated to us this time, so it really came down to scheduling and who could make it when we had the shoot.

BT1: How did you help the volunteers feel comfortable in the photo shoot? 

T1D Exposed: We made sure the models knew that they were in control, no matter what their comfort level was. Everyone was given a robe that they could wear before and after the shoot. They also got to pick out the photos that they liked best and thought that best represented them. The models chose how their image would be used on social media or if it would be used on those platforms at all. Even if they didn’t want to use their real name, we respected that.

BT1: What inspired the project?

Tara: Katie and I met when I was doing my thesis in photography at the Academy of Art. My project was about diabetes not being an invisible disease. It affects your organs as well as your psychological system, and part of the calendar is recognizing that there are changes to our bodies, but it’s also about embracing that and having gratitude for our bodies and showing all that we are able to achieve.

BT1: You talk about shedding the shame of our bodies, what do you recommend for Type 1s to do in order to accomplish this?

T1D Exposed: We think it really speaks to our generation, the issue of shame. Growing up as a kid, you feel like you’re different because of diabetes, and you hide and build up shame. By creating this calendar, we hope people see it and are inspired to shed that shame when they see other Type 1s shed their clothes.

BT1: It’s mentioned on the Divabetic blog that “The mission of T1D Exposed is to spread awareness of Type one and fundraising for cure research as well as psycho-social support organizations.” Can you explain what psycho-social support is and why you think it’s important in the T1D community?

T1D Exposed: We run an adult T1D support group where you can come and talk about Type 1 or not talk about it; the point is that you meet with people who understand. We came to the conclusion that in order to survive Type 1, you have to have some kind of network and community to share the burden of diabetes. You also get inspired by others by hearing their stories. No one knows diabetes as well as someone who has it.

One of our major benefactors (along with JDRF and DYF) is Carb DM, and they run all kinds of meet-up groups, helping people to connect and develop organic relationships. We think they’ve created a great platform for connection. Something like this changes so many lives; it’s definitely changed ours. We met at a diabetes camp where they teach you skills to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. There are so many incredible organizations out there and this is our solution and contribution.

Want to join the cause? Buy a calendar HERE.

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Michelle Boise

With an MFA in writing from the University of San Francisco, Michelle believes in the power of words and looks for the human quality behind every story. She’s a writer, editor and content guru, having worked on both literary magazines and e-commerce platforms. Before joining the Beyond Type 1 team, she developed health-conscious articles for Fitbit.