‘A Bad Day‘ is a multimedia piece that approaches the struggle of bulimia and that is the first chapter of an ongoing long-term project about Eating Disorders. Jo is 21 and suffers from bulimia, a kind of eating disorder. Her obsession is not about being thin; it’s about not gaining weight, in spite of the huge amount of food that she ingests every day. Bulimia has taken all her time and money, and also her passion: dance. ‘If I was not bulimic I would be dancing like before’ Jo says. ‘But ballet is about elegance and perfection, and I’m a crap person in the middle of chaos’. She doesn’t look overweight and she hates her body and can’t see herself in leggings in front of a mirror anymore. She also thinks that her addiction is ‘disgusting’. That’s why she never told anyone ‘ not even her boyfriend ‘ about it. For some reason, she decided to open herself to me.
The project started, after a deep research, shooting for few weeks in November 2010, when I spent my days with Jo in her house in Edinburgh. I woke up with her and listened to her saying: ‘I hope this is going to be a good day’. With her I went to the supermarket and watched movies in her computer. I also saw her going through daily crisis, eating and vomiting immediately after. She confessed to me that she self-injures herself, specifically small cuts in her legs and feet. I saw her good days turning into very bad ones and I saw Jo acting in public as if everything was absolutely fine. And this is actually what this illness is all about, pretending that everything is all right while it’s not. An apparent normality that makes bulimia one of the hardest disorders to diagnose and a devastating killer of female teenagers and young adults worldwide.
The lies and misunderstandings that surround bulimia are what convinced me to further develop this project. I would like my images to catch the contradictory feelings and behaviors that these girls have to go through day after day. My approach is going to be intimate and psychological and will leave in the back the more physical manifestations of the of the disease.
Laia Abril, 25, is a documentary photographer raised in Barcelona. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and studied photography at ICP in New York City. She began working on documentary projects in the Balkans, covering the 13th Funeral of Srebrenica and the Independence of Kosova, first for a Spanish NGO and then for Spanish newspapers. In 2009 and 2010 she was a finalist on the Ian Parry Award participating at the Getty Gallery in London first with her photo project about the young lesbian community in Brooklyn and then with the project ‘The Last Cabaret’ about a porno sex-life club in Barcelona. Her work has been featured in magazines including OjodePez, The Sunday Times magazine, DRepubblica, and COLORS magazine amongst others, and has been recognized with various scholarships. After spending two years at FABRICA (the Benetton research and communication center in Italy) she is currently working as a staff photographer, blogger and Associate Picture Editor for COLORS Magazine combining her freelance career and keeping developing her personal project.