Figuring out exactly who you are is never an easy thing to do, but it’s a natural process that most of us go through at some stage in our lives. For many people, however, that process often includes holding back a part of their true personality – the person they’ve always wanted to be – for the sake of what society deems “normal.” So when a photographer and stylist gave some lucky people the chance to show off their true selves, they embraced it with open arms.
Holly Falconer and Kylie Griffiths are both based in the U.K., where they work as a photographer and stylist respectively. The premise of one of their recent collaborations was simple. “For this shoot, we asked a load of people on the internet what they’ve always wanted to be,” they told Vice in 2014. “Then we told them to come to our office so we could turn them into that.”
Twenty-two-year-old Elouise, for instance, wanted to know what it would be like to have tattoos all over her body. “Once, when I was younger, I got a tattoo of Buddha on the back of my neck and it looks like a steaming poo, so I decided not to get another tattoo after that,” she said.
After Griffiths had performed her magic, Falconer took the shot. Then the duo decided to ask random passers-by what they thought of Elouise’s transformation. John, 34, said, “Yeah, I love that. She’s expressing herself,” while 22-year-old Stuart noted that she looked good both before and after she’d had the tattoos added.
Another guy named Ken, meanwhile, had an inner Star Trek fan he desperately wanted to let out. “I’m a really crazy guy and I really like Star Trek,” he said. “I just want everyone to know I love Star Trek and I’m crazy!” With a change of outfit and an appropriate hairstyle, Ken was transformed.
The result definitely screams “Star Trek fan.” But 23-year-old Julia wasn’t a fan, saying, “The post-makeover is too old school to be true. I like him as he normally is.” And another passer-by, Alex, branded poor Ken an “idiot.” Thankfully, Fabien, 26, was a little more supportive. “I live in East London and I think people with a special look are better than normal people, so I’ll go for Star Trek,” he said.
Melanie decided to go for a slightly more extreme makeover, one that encompassed with a complete gender swap. “I’m doing this because I feel like men represent power and strength, and I’d really like women to feel powerful and strong, which is why I’m becoming a man for a day,” she said.
Stuart seemingly couldn’t believe his eyes. “No way. What! You’re joking! That’s a chick? She could be a sick actor playing both a guy and a girl,” he said. In fact, everyone Griffiths and Falconer quizzed on Melanie’s after-shot loved her transformation, with 26-year-old Julienne describing it as “perfect.”
Other folks, meanwhile, had some weirder requests for the women offering them the chance to let their inner selves out. Iris, for instance, wanted to be turned into a human doll. “I always wanted to be a doll when I was younger,” the 27-year-old said. “I wanted to live in a big pink doll house and dress like a doll, so I’m here to have my dreams made true!”
Opinions on Iris’ new look were decidedly mixed. Paula said she liked the results, describing them as “very ’60s” – but Alex dismissed the color scheme of her dress, saying she “looks like a rainbow.” Of course, the purpose of this project was for people to showcase who they really are – all that mattered was that they felt comfortable.
Tom from Brighton, U.K., took things to a slightly more extreme edge. He asked Griffiths to transform him into a juggalo, a term for fans of horrorcore hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse. “The reason is because I think they look kind of weird, and I like weird, subversive faces,” the 22-year-old explained. “Also, I think the music linked to them is pretty cool.”
Stuart compared Tom’s makeover to Batman’s long-time nemesis Joker, saying, “he looks quite sick.” Ellie, though, didn’t quite get the look he was going for with his dramatic new style. “He looks better normal,” she said. “The juggalo outfit is a bit desperate, [to be honest]. Like, what’s he doing with his hands?”
Tabitha lives in London, and says she likes things “that are quite over the top” – so, naturally, she asked Griffiths and Falconer to make her into a drag queen. “I’m still thinking of my drag queen name, so I’ll have to get back to you on that,” the 29-year-old said.
With blonde hair, a sparkling dress and a ruffled feather boa, Tabitha’s new look definitely fulfills her request. And the strangers the women quizzed on her transformation loved her new look: Paula gushed that Tabitha looks like a “diva,” while 34-year-old John agreed, “She’s not limiting herself. I think it’s important to express your sexuality, and she’s obviously doing that, so it’s cool.”
Thirty-year-old Faye is also a Londoner, but instead of going for a similarly outrageous look, she opted for something a touch more conservative. Indeed, she asked to be turned into a serious businesswoman. “I want to do this because I feel like, now I’m 30, I really need to dress a bit more seriously and smart,” she said.
At first glance, you’d find it difficult to tell that this was the same person. But while Stuart and Ellie both liked Faye’s new style, drawing attention to her hand gesture and saying she looked “classier” and “like a bitch,” Sarah preferred the original picture. “She looks more natural,” she said. “She looks more like herself.”
Jon hails from Croydon, U.K., where he dreams of making it big in music. “I’m being made into a pop star because I went to university and got a degree in pop recording and I want to be a really big pop star,” he said.
And once again, after Griffiths had worked her magic, the women showed off their subject’s new look to random passers-by to see what they thought. Ellie liked Jon’s new threads, saying the 28-year-old looked “more alive,” while Julienne described his after-shot as “fierce.”
Helen, meanwhile, decided to unleash her inner goth. “I’m doing this because I’ve always wanted to rebel and see what it’s like to look different in public,” she explained. “Goths are normal people, too. Also, I want to be able to wear outrageous makeup for a day.”
Unsurprisingly, everyone was amazed by Helen’s dramatic new look. “She can pull off goth really well,” Ellie remarked. Thanks to Griffiths and Falconer’s talented makeover skills, then, these nine strangers have been able to fully express their inner selves, transforming into the people they’d always dreamed of being.