Cutting the Pink Ribbon
Since childhood as women we are always taught the importance of beauty and feminity, For most women breasts are one of the most important and feminine parts of their bodies. However the process of mastectomy recently brought into light by the actress Angelina Jolie has set an example for millions of women all across the globe for cherishing womanhood with Breast cancer being the leading cause of cancer deaths in young women aging between 15-40.
It was in 1993 that artist/photographer (and former model), Matuschka at the age of 37 was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her struggle with the disease came into light when her one-breasted picture (post the mastectomy) was on the cover of The New York Times Magazine, with the message “you can’t look away anymore”. The photograph became a national rage back then, some thought it was vulgar, shocking, bold and horrifying whereas some considered it to be a sign of courage and true spirit of womanhood. ”It was a taboo subject in the early ’90s. There was no press coverage, and there was no visual to go with the subject.” artist and former fashion model Matuschka told Teichner of the photograph.
Years later came the news of 64 year old Oscar winning actress Kathy Bates, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and recovering from Double Mastectomy. The actress was yet another example of courage and bravery.
This shout became louder when actress Angelina Jolie announced in The New York Times that she had undergone a preventive double mastectomy in February 2013 after doctors discovered she carried the “‘faulty’ gene” and had roughly an 87 percent risk of contracting breast cancer. This initiative taken by Angelina Jolie has definitely managed to spark inquisitiveness amongst public all over the world.
Dr. Kristi Funk, who treated Jolie at the Pink Lotus Breast Center in Beverly Hills, notes that breasts are a part of woman’s identity, which is why Jolie—who has always been admired for her beauty—touched so many women who are struggling with the surgery. She says the inspirational star couldn’t deny her inherent desire to help others. “When someone who is arguably the most beautiful woman in the world removes the part of her body that is symbolic of femininity and sexuality, you have to say, ‘Why would she do that?’” Dr. Funk questioned.
Even now mastectomy is looked at as ugly and alienated. Mastectomy photographs which were a part of what’s known as the ‘SCAR Project’ were removed from Facebook. More than 20,000 furious people signed an online petition demanding that Facebook backtrack. Within days, it did, announcing that “the vast majority” of mastectomy photos would be permitted, but not all.
The ‘SCAR project’ is a series of large-scale portraits of young breast cancer survivors shot by fashion photographer David Jay. Primarily an awareness raising campaign with the tagline ‘Breast Cancer is not a Pink Ribbon’, The SCAR Project puts a raw, unflinching face on early onset breast cancer while paying tribute to the courage and spirit of so many brave young women. It is an exercise in awareness, hope, reflection and healing.
The decision to have breasts removed in the wake of a cancer diagnosis is sometimes the toughest and most personal decision a woman has to make. To come out on the other side a whole woman, a woman changed but unbroken, breasts or no breasts is what the ultimate goal is.
- 01 August 2014