Groundbreaking photo that ran on the Aug. 15, 1993 cover of the Sunday New York Times Magazine
There’s a rawness to the portraits of their bare chests — transforming a journey of pain and suffering into one of beauty and strength.
Confidence surrounds the women who strike away from the sexualized bodies of today’s marketed curves, ones with a scar stitched across the bosom — the marker these women carry as a reminder of the breast cancer they’ve battled.
These are the survivors of a cancer one in eight women will be diagnosed with.
These are SCAR Project’s life-size photos of breast cancer survivors.
“The way breast cancer is portrayed in the media, with this kind of happy, smiley pink face on it, completely ignores the reality of the effects both physically and emotionally on a woman’s psyche and everyone in her family,” photographer David Jay said. “I realized that was something I had to try to portray accurately in The SCAR Project.”
Breast cancer claims the lives of 40,000 women each year and is the leading cause of death for women between the age of 15 and 40. Awareness, action and prevention infuse today’s public discourse surrounding the cancer.
But in promoting efforts to “save the boob,” has the pink ribbon looped around everything but the real scar of the disease?
“What I have a problem with is the way they’ve tainted breast cancer research, funding and donations. They’ve sexualized [campaigns] and made it a pink tea party,” said Matuschka, the woman behind the famed self-portrait, “Beauty Out of Damage.”
“Beauty Out of Damage,” which depicts a full view of the artist’s post-mastectomy breast, stirred controversy after its 1993 publication on the front cover of The New York Times Magazine — a time in which breast cancer was all but a hushed-up whisper, overshadowed by the AIDS epidemic.
“They would never have an ad with a man’s crotch saying, ‘The Power of Prostate Cancer Research’ or ‘Triumph of Testicular Cancer,’ ” she said, referencing the “Beauty of Breast Cancer Research” campaign by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. “But for some reason, it seems to be OK to sexualize, glamorize and make [breast cancer] sound as if it’s not a deathly experience or a difficult situation.”
In the 20 years since Matuschka’s controversial cover, organizations such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure have brought breast cancer to the forefront, prompting efforts to promote awareness, encouraging women to seek preventative measures and helping raise money to fund research.
But not all breast cancer campaigns follow the same suit.
Adult website Pornhub ran a “Save the Boobs” promotion this October, donating one cent for every 30 clicks on a page that provided nothing more than a pink ribbon and scantily clad model.
“Save the Boobs” focused strictly on raising money for breast cancer research — nothing more, the company’s vice president, Corey Price, said in an email statement.
“The sexualization … is not helping research; it’s not helping women in treatment, it’s not encouraging behavioral changes,” said advocate, sex blogger and breast cancer survivor Stef Woods. “I don’t believe someone turning to an adult video will then turn to the women in their lives and say ‘OK, let’s talk about self exams and let’s make sure mammograms are scheduled.’ ”
In the end, the ultimate goal is finding the cure and ending the disease — be it a porn site rallying in funds or a photographer’s life-size portraits of the real bodies of breast cancer survivors.
“It’s very easy to be cynical and complain about … the sexualization of breast cancer,” SCAR Project photographer David Jay said. “Without that, perhaps breast cancer would have no research at all.
“Who am I to say what’s the right way to do it?”
Powered by Facebook Comments