Last night was THE night for Of Scars.. It was wonderful and terrifying all at the same time. It was energizing and exhausting at the same time. It was happy and sad… most of all, it was a wonderful event where I met many amazing people.
I knew the founders Kate and Elli going into the event and I thought it would be great meeting the other models, and I was right. Their energy, drive, compassion and sense of humor made the decision to participate and the photo shoot itself easy for me.
For most women, being photographed topless for a public event is well beyond their comfort zone. When you have only one boob, it’s beyond your comfort planet. But, in a weird way for me, it was exactly what I needed to do.
We all know what society says about boobs… men and women talk about them on a regular basis, praising, judging, commenting, complaining about them until sometimes it seems like all you hear is talk about juggs… in fact, someone went so far as to find 262 different terms we use to describe them. As a culture, we’re obsessed with them.
I’m a big girl with a DD cup on the right and nothing on the left. I have two different fake boobs, one of which is smaller than it should be because my insurance company considers the product that makes one in my size a “luxury item”… yep, being symmetrical is a luxury now… thankfully, they will cover two (there’s logic there someplace)… a regular one and a swim boob and the swim boob is actually my size.
But… back to last night…
My photo shoot was in June – so I had plenty of time to wonder how the photos would turn out. I was also pretty sure that most of the other models had been reconstructed, so I was likely to be the only one-boobed woman on the walls. I trusted Kate and Elli to pick beautiful photos because I’d seen examples of their work — and I knew them. I also couldn’t help but worry that the event itself would be like one of those dreams where you show up for school without your pants. It was far, far from that.
The wonderful thing about Of Scars is that they only display the photos once — when all the models can be there. So, you look at an amazing photo of a bald woman with scared boobs and then you turn around and talk to the real person. You meet the friends that were in the photo with her, who shaved their heads on the internet to raise money to help her pay for treatment — you laugh, you drink wine and you complain about the ubiquitous pink ribbons coming up for Breast Cancer Awareness month. When you say something like “you can’t even fricking buy CAT FOOD that doesn’t have a pink ribbon on it” — they get you… At one point I went to the neighborhood Super America and saw pink and white TIC TACS…. (note, saw, didn’t buy) — when I came back to the event and told one of my fellow models this, she just rolled her eyes…
There was a lot that was overwhelming about last night…
- Walking into the gallery and seeing my photo was kind of like the first time I had the courage to look at myself in the mirror after my surgery… I looked at my photos out of the corner of my eye at first, then when I realized the world wasn’t going to stop revolving — I looked again, long and hard. I saw a beautiful woman with courage she didn’t know she had… until cancer.
- I found myself telling my cancer narrative in a new way. I’m now 4 years+ post diagnosis and my life has changed in many, many ways. What has really changed is my level of compassion for other people. Everyone has faults, some physical, some intellectual, some personal — some we can see and others we can’t.
- At one point in the evening the gallery was really crowded — all of those folks spent part of their Saturday night to look at a photo of me without my shirt on… many, many, many of them told me I was beautiful. For someone who is used to being the smart one, not the pretty one, it was a lot to take in — and, they were seeing one of my big faults — and saying it anyway.
- My photos showed peace and courage… one of each… and that’s about right. I’m at peace with losing my breast — and I am a courageous person. I’m doing my thing and enjoying life. period.