A special treat on the blog today: beautiful, inspiring, unstoppable Efe!
I’ve been hoping to work with someone like Efena for ages, and I finally got my chance a few weeks ago. We had a great shoot – one that felt like it had real soul and purpose and left everyone feeling really proud.
What struck me most about Efe is the way her presence influences the people around her – I’m 100% convinced she makes those around her more grateful, more optimistic, more humble. Efe has been on an incredibly challenging journey the last few years, one she didn’t ask for and never could have expected. I’m in awe of how resilient she is, plus she has this giant, contagious smile and a graceful style that makes you love her straight away.
Personally, I found spending time with Efe a bit like going to church – you watch and you listen, and then you realise: the whole point is love. I left the shoot wanting to be kinder and more grateful, and to lead with an open heart. If you spend several hours physically moving a person’s legs into position with your own hands, you end up feeling incredibly grateful for your own working, functioning, slightly below average looking legs. It’s not fair what happened to Efe and I wish it hadn’t, but my oh my is she styling it out with grace and courage. I’m so grateful to have met her and to be able to show her how beautiful she looks to the rest of us.
I asked Efe if she would like to share her thoughts at this point of her journey, and she ever so kindly sent me this:
“Marking the three year anniversary of the horrific and catastrophic car accident that rendered me paralysed from the waist down was indubitably a bittersweet experience. On April 21, 2014, a doctor broke my heart in a way I never thought was possible; when he told me I had a complete thoracic spinal cord injury. In layman’s terms, this directly translates to zero possibility of ever walking again.
Cut to April 2017. Months prior, I decided the best way to celebrate how far I haf come was through what I call my #NoFear photoshoot. Inspired by the LA-based wheelchair model/makeup artist Steph Aiello, I wanted to send a clear message with the pictures.
The idea behind #NoFear is simple. My aim is to shatter misconceptions of disabilities whilst spreading awareness of spinal cord injuries. To show that being disabled does not necessarily translate to being unable.”
“Being suddenly confined to a wheelchair is certainly no walk in the park. Side effects of a spinal cord injury include sporadic & crippling nerve pain, bouts of insomnia and working out regularly becomes an excruciating must to facilitate recovery.
Stormy and Victoria were the fantastic team behind my amazing photos. Our natural chemistry and undeniable synergy made my first professional shoot extremely fun and comfortable. Everything was utter perfection. The location, the wardrobe, the shoes and especially the make-up. My eyebrows were totally on fleek!
Without Stormy’s genius guidance, my poses would probably have been kinda lacklustre. She has this ineffable way of making you feel immediately at ease; the shots can’t help but be absolutely beautiful. She creates an atmosphere of comfort and giddyness. Furthermore, the entire process from introductory emails to signing the contract is so streamlined; you just end up focusing on being thoroughly excited the whole time.”
Through some divine connection, Rebel and Romance and Efena Smiles (my social media brand) have produced something much larger than us. To me, they defied, nay obliterated my expectations. These photos declare that my disability isn’ t going to hold me back from ‘overcoming paralysis one step at a time’ (which has been my manta for the last couple of years).
All I can really say is a massive thank you to Stormy and Vic for helping me illustrate #NoFear in powerful, perception-altering visual imagery.
The photos really speak for themselves.
Love ya Stormy
Back at you babe, it was an absolute pleasure:) Efe is wearing a beaded romper and heels from River Island above.
We wanted to make sure we were showing Efe’s wheelchair in at least a few images – not so much as an aid but as more of a high tech, futuristic accessory. If you’re curious about it, or know someone who might be, it’s made by a an American company called WHILL.
This is the first time Efe has worn lingerie since the accident <3. Pink satin sleep set from Victoria’s Secret, floral crown from Monsoon.
That prize winning smile I was telling you about:)
And a COVERGIRL shot if I ever saw one. Victoria did a top notch job, as always.
Efe’s brother was on hand to help with some of the logistics of getting on and off the terrace, which is the only part of this shoot venue that is not wheelchair accessible. But what a view right? Efe is wearing a gold embroidered party dress from Topshop.
Efe, you’re honestly amazing! Thanks again for a wonderful, inspiring shoot. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for you:)