Maxline Bartolo.Maxline Bartolo.

They’re set apart by their nonconformity, united by their diversity, and join forces in a trailblazing Women’secret photo shoot that aims to tear down stereotypes and break the rules. Iggy Fenech draws out five women’s secrets as they lay themselves bare, no holds barred. He finds there’s nothing private and confidential about their unconventionality.

Meet MAXLINE BARTOLO, a mother who has never let alopecia determine her self-worth.

About standing out: It’s difficult, particularly when dealing with nasty comments and people staring at you on a daily basis. Yet, every day is an opportunity to acknowledge the difficulties people who suffer from alopecia go through. And, no matter what, I will keep on motivating and empowering women to my best ability. After all, there is nothing wrong with being comfortable in your own skin and with your own personality, even if you have no hair.

About women in the media: I feel that both women and men are sexualised in the media, even after all the awareness that has been spread.

About the Women’secret shoot: This is a great opportunity to empower women who have lost their hair for whatever reason. Just remember, ladies: your hair doesn’t define your beauty.

One thing people should talk about more: Alopecia is a topic that is rarely discussed. I think we need to create more awareness by speaking about it and by teaching children from a young age not to bully others just because their appearance is different.

Biggest achievement: Having my daughter, Julia.

Guilty pleasure: Chocolate!

Biggest fear: Leaving my family behind due to death.

Karly Naudi.Karly Naudi.

Meet KARLY NAUDI, a transgender feminist who continually speaks out about injustice, diversity and respect.

About standing out: Sadly, people will always have something negative to say, be it about celebrities, or the quiet co-workers… Nowadays, I’ve become oblivious to it all, although I make it crystal clear that I am not amused by anything nasty that may have been said or done to myself and others.

About women in the media: We are blessed to have a variety of strong and capable women who young girls can look up to as role models. That is a great place to start, but as I learnt for myself growing up, inequality between men and women is still very much alive.

About the Women’secret shoot: Very excited! I would have never imagined that I would be in Pink… in a swimsuit!

One thing people should talk about more: Embryo freezing/donation, IVF and surrogacy could bring happiness to so many people, so why object to them? After all, the same technology that gave us cures for cancer and other diseases is giving people the chance to be parents.

Biggest achievement: Getting out of a toxic work environment.

Guilty pleasure: Food and online shopping.

Biggest fear: The inability to stop or rectify injustice.

Meet DENISE GAFA, a tattoo-loving businesswoman who has never turned her back on her individuality.

Denise Gafa.Denise Gafa.

About standing out: I’ve never been shy, so I’m not sure how not to stand out. However, now that I have all these imprints on my skin, I’m even harder to miss. The only thing that annoys me is that when I do something people don’t like, my tattoos seem to be an excuse for them to turn me into a scapegoat.

About women in the media: I have an issue with the way they associate flowers and dolls with women, and muscles and hard work with men. I think anyone of every gender should be allowed to pick stuff for themselves.

About the Women’secret shoot: Women’secret definitely deserve to be praised for this!

One thing people should talk about more: Something that ticks me off is the misguided message on gender equality in our country. I highly believe that men and women can be anything they want to be, but we don’t need to become inconsiderate either. What happened to the woman who said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’? I’m sure you can wear the pants and be polite.

Biggest achievement: Overcoming my anxiety and moving to Ireland alone to start afresh.

Guilty pleasure: Country music.

Biggest fear: Not having the chance to pay my parents back for all that they’ve done.

Meet DANITA DIMECH, a blogger and influencer who keeps it real about life, self-image and marriage.

Danita Dimech.Danita Dimech.

About standing out: Although I don’t really see myself as someone who stands out, I guess what I say does. And that is what makes me happiest. We need more women to speak the truth about themselves, to show their flaws, and see the beauty in every imperfection.

About women in the media: Well, to be honest it was never an issue for me to see perfect women in the media because I’ve always tried to make a distinction. Can we ever be as picture-perfect as the lives in the media? We all have flaws. And, besides, it’s not only being a size six that makes you beautiful. Your smile matters too.

About the Women’secret shoot: Overwhelmed, but I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this! I never expected to be recognised for something I preach about on my blog.

One thing people should talk about more: The double standards we, as women, set for ourselves. Why can’t we empower each other rather than judge and talk behind each other’s backs? Stop the hate, give compliments and stand up for one another!

Biggest achievement: Having a happy marriage.

Guilty pleasure: A burger, or slice of cake on a Friday night.

Biggest fear: Not being a good enough mum if I ever had children.

Meet ANGELIQUE ATTARD, a children’s swimming instructor who identifies as lesbian.

Angelique Attard.Angelique Attard.

About standing out: I do not seek to stand out. However, I have no issue with it if it means I’m doing a good job.

About women in the media: Although I have seen big improvements since I was younger – which is great, mind you – I still feel there is room for improvement. I don’t feel greatly affected by it as, all my life, I have been surrounded by very strong, independent women.

About the Women’secret shoot: This is my first experience of the sort at the young age of 45, so I’m taking it as a new and fun adventure. I’m also in my element here as I am representing a product that is part of my job: swimwear with a personal touch!

One thing people should talk more about: One of my favourite quotes is: ‘The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.’ I really do hope the government will be more present and effective when it comes to animal cruelty and the strays in this country. After all, although these animals don’t pay taxes, they deserve our care.

Biggest achievement: Working with young adults on a voluntary basis in competitive sports.

Guilty pleasure: Travelling – I feel super guilty about leaving my dog behind.

Biggest fear: Underestimating the power of the sea and all the creatures in it… spurred largely by Jaws!

Photography Luca Gouder Photography
Hair Looking Good, Bay Street Shopping Complex
Make-up Rhona the Make-up Artist
Clothes Women’secret

This article first appeared in Pink magazine. Get your copy with The Sunday Times of Malta.

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