Salty Girls: The Women of Cystic Fibrosis by Ian Ross Pettigrew


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Imagine what it is like growing up as a woman in today’s society, where the media demands perfection, and where body-shaming has become all too prevalent. Too fat? Too thin? Too short? It is a constant struggle to maintain the concept of ‘beauty’.

In this upcoming book the Salty Girls challenge this norm, and strive to put an end to body shaming. NO MORE feeling embarrassed or ashamed of their bodies, The Salty Girls have now inspired other women with CF, from literally all around the world. They embrace their body’s scars and all, to inspire women everywhere to do the same. These women truly are the epitome of remarkable strength, enormous resilience, and unique beauty both inside and out. Not only is this book about raising awareness for Cystic Fibrosis, but it can truly reach all females who have ever felt this way. Salty Girls is the logical evolution of my first book, Just Breathe, which focused on portraits of adults with Cystic Fibrosis.

Around the same time I saw the photo of model Bethany Townsend, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, and another model with the skin disease vitiligo being interviewed by Tyra Banks. I thought it’s time for a model with CF. I know what these woman go through on a daily basis; everyday is a struggle living with CF. And, to the uninformed, it’s an invisible fatal disease. With this book it’s invisible no more.

Some of the scarring in the photos is from double-lung transplants, some from both liver and pancreas transplants. You’ll notice on many of the women a small, plastic “valve” on their abdomen… that’s the access for their feeding tube. Since the CF body doesn’t process/digest food properly, many of these women struggle just to maintain a minimum weight, all the while taking in 3-4,000 calories a day. Another major scar you’ll notice runs prominently across the abdomen: that is called the Meconium ileus scar. That is caused by a bowel obstruction at birth. Even though the baby is only days old, major surgery is involved, usually necessitating bowel resection and ileostomy placement. [Official Website]

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The stories here are real and powerful. It’s the Salty Girls, in their own words.

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Cystic Fibrosis Explained

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs and digestive system. An inherited condition, CF affects the cells that produce mucus, sweat and digestive juices. These secreted fluids are normally thin and slippery. But in cystic fibrosis, a defective gene causes the secretions to become thick and sticky. Instead of acting as a lubricant, the secretions plug up tubes, ducts and passageways, especially in the lungs and pancreas. The sweat test has been the “gold standard” for diagnosing cystic fibrosis (CF) for

more than 50 years. The sweat test measures the amount of chloride in the sweat. People with CF have more chloride (salt) in their sweat than someone who does not have CF. Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that causes mucus to build up and clog some of the organs in the body, mainly the lungs and pancreas.In cystic fibrosis, the CFTR chloride channel is defective, and does not allow chloride to be reabsorbed into sweat duct cells. Consequently, more sodium stays in the duct, and more chloride remains in the sweat. The concentration of chloride in sweat is therefore elevated in individuals with cystic fibrosis.

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