Shot by Oxfam

So, I was asked to go to an Oxfam photo shoot.

(Let me warn you this does not end well.)

Some time ago I had auctioned to be in an Oxfam film and – despite smiling through my Skype interview – I was rejected.

But I was told, they might be making some short films of volunteers talking about what they do and we, in the shop, thought this might be a valuable recruiting tool.

So, when I was contacted I though this was what it was about and said no, as I had a stinking cold and no voice.

But at 6.30 one Thursday night, I was rung by someone from Oxfam HQ asking me if I could possibly, possibly make it to a photographer’s studio in East London by 10am the next day.

So, I schlepped up from Deepest Sussex to trendy East London and it turns out the (extremely nice, and rather famous photographer) was so on trend that his studio was in the corner of a cement-mixing yard – yes, that cool.

I however, looked like a windblown Rudolph and required the best efforts of the make-up people to make me look human.

(Also, after my attempts to re-create a recent haircut, my best beloved told me I looked like Grayson Perry so I had to have extensive access to hair-straighteners.)

‘You are our hero,’ the cool photographer said.

I only had a cold and had only come from Deepest Sussex so it seemed a bit over the top, but hey ho, I was sipping Lemsip all morning so was feeling quite heroic.

Anyway, there were eight of us and we were asked to be in small group shots, in a big group and then to be taken individually.

It was only when we did the all-group shots that I realised being the hero meant being out front.

I presumed this was because of the demographic of Oxfam volunteers – a surfeit of middle-aged, white women – and the fact that there were two lovely young black women ( one of whom was a fashion stylist from London), a handful of interns from Oxfam headquarters and two men, so they didn’t really have much of a representative sample of us volunteers.

Anyway, there I was out front with my pricing gun, chatting to the very charming, very cool photographer and trying to look less like Grayson Perry with a red nose and more like a happy Oxfam volunteer.

So, we were all done and I went home and looked up the photographer – and indeed, he had photographed Helen Mirren, Vivienne Westwood and sorts of other famous people who looked amazing in his photos.

Yes, you can guess what is coming. When I got the photos of me emailed through, I really, really wish I had held in my stomach and lost that stone I had been promising to lose for a year or more.

Ah well, there you go, I thought.

Last night I got an email from Oxfam HQ titled ‘You’re famous!’ and I must admit to a little thrill even with the prospect of seeing my fat self on a poster in Oxfam shops across the country.

But they have photo-shopped me out of the group photo altogether and replaced me with an attractive, young and needless to say, slimmer Oxfam intern.

Not only that, but they have also done a pen portrait of all of us as individuals to go alongside a head shot and gave me the quote from someone else.

I wanted to shout at them that I had never said I needed Oxfam to ‘improve my self-esteem.’

So, I am definitely not famous, not even visible and given that, I will not be relying on Oxfam to improve my self esteem!

(P.S the photographer was Perou and you can see his great photos on his website.)



2 thoughts on “Shot by Oxfam

  1. Oh poor you that is super horrible and sexist and ageist and all the other ‘ists’ I can think of, or would think of if my ageing brain worked properly! I visited Shoreditch the other week (and stayed in a super trendy Z hotel) and also visited a pub, as I am prone to doing, and after asking if I could smoke anywhere was informed by the hipster guy who resembled a member of the taliban that ‘oh yaaaa, we took the roof of the pub and put a roof terrace up there’! The aforementioned roof had been removed and replaced with a sitty outty with outside heaters (isn’t that an oxymoron and aren’t they somewhat pointless and environmentally bad?) the clientele were all aged about 12 and very thin but very trendy jeez I am getting old! I feel I should write a letter of complaint to Oxfam signed yours inordinately old fashioned and slightly plump!


  2. If all the people who were old and plump left Oxfam they’d be bereft. And as for trendy Shoreditch, you should probably have been snorting cocaine or having a legal high – and no that is not a ciggie – s we used to say!


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