The “SALTY GIRLS” Project. Beautiful Women Fighting Cystic Fibrosis

The “Salty Girls” project, (so called because of one of the common symptoms associated with the disease: extremely salty skin), started off as a running joke, according to photographer Ian Pettigrew, but has turned into a worldwide phenomenon.
© Ian Pettigrew

While he was doing another portrait project –  “JUST BREATHE: Adults with Cystic Fibrosis”, he ended up photographing a disproportionate number of girls to guys of which most of the women involved were roughly between the ages of 20-40, typical for an adult with CF, he figured. Then someone actually said one day, “This project is just turning out to be a bunch of hot chicks with CF”. Hence, the idea of showing how beautiful women fighting CF really are, was started.

© Ian Pettigrew
He mentioned seeing a girl in the news who was a model, posing in her bikini with a colostomy bag as she has Crohn’s Disease, and shortly after that the Canadian model with the skin disease vitiligo being interviewed by Tyra Banks. He then thought, “well, it’s time for a model with CF!”
“I know what these woman go through on a daily basis; everyday it’s a struggle living with CF. And, to the uninformed, it is the invisible fatal disease.”
© Ian Pettigrew

Now the ‘Salty Girls’ project, with almost 60 women and growing, shows how these women are inspirational and fearless, and gives hope for those younger CFers.
© Ian Pettigrew

© Ian Pettigrew


© Ian Pettigrew

© Ian Pettigrew


© Ian Pettigrew

© Ian Pettigrew
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting Canadian children and young adults. There is no cure.
Cystic fibrosis causes various effects on the body, but mainly affects the digestive system and lungs. The degree of cystic fibrosis involvement differs from person to person. However, the persistence and ongoing infection in the lungs, with destruction of lungs and loss of lung function, eventually causes death in the majority of people who have cystic fibrosis.
Typical complications caused by cystic fibrosis are difficulty in digesting fats and proteins; vitamin deficiencies due to loss of pancreatic enzymes; and progressive loss of lung function.
It is estimated that one in every 3,600 children born in Canada has cystic fibrosis. Almost 4,000 Canadian children, adolescents, and adults with cystic fibrosis attend specialized CF clinics.

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