Serena Williams is one of my personal role models. From her stunning athleticism, to her support of women's rights, to her love for her adorable daughter, I sometimes wonder if there's anything this real-life superhero can't do. Thanks to one of her more recent projects, though, I can now look up to Williams as an advocate for women's health awareness and as a singer — yes, seriously. Serena Williams' music video for Breast Cancer Awareness Month is both a beautiful work of art and a reminder to her millions of fans to take care of themselves and their bodies.
The video, which Williams posted on her Instagram over the weekend, begins with a close-up of Williams' face as she begins to sing a love song with very stripped-down vocals. As the camera zooms out, the actual meaning of the line she's singing, "I touch myself," becomes clearer. Williams is holding her breasts, seemingly naked, and she sings the lyric, "Think I would die if you were to ignore me." At this point, what seemed like a love song turns into more of a self-love song.
The fact of the matter is, according to the American Cancer Society, more than 40,000 American women will die from breast cancer in 2018 alone, and Williams' music video is a raw, beautiful, and empowering way to raise awareness of the disease, and the importance of breast health.
In an Instagram caption, Williams explained that her music video is part of the I Touch Myself Project, which launched in 2014 after the passing of Chrissy Amphlett, the frontrunner of the Australian rock band Divinyls. The song Williams is singing in her video is a cover of one of Divinyls' hit songs, also called "I Touch Myself." Amphlett passed away from breast cancer and multiple sclerosis in 2013, and according to the project's website, the initiative was founded in Amphlett's honor to educate women and remind them to take care of their bodies. "Chrissy was passionate about spreading awareness of the importance of early detection," the project states on its website, "and [she] wanted the global hit song ‘I Touch Myself’ to be adapted as an anthem for breast health around the world."
Even though Williams seems like the kind of woman who doesn't typically care what people think of her, she admitted in her Instagram post that sharing this video was a significant move for her. She wrote in the caption,
Yes, this put me out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to do it because it’s an issue that affects all women of all colors, all around the world. Early detection is key — it saves so many lives. I just hope this helps to remind women of that.
If you aren't quite sure how to check yourself for early symptoms of breast cancer, the National Breast Cancer Foundation is a great resource to help you get started. The organization suggests keeping an eye out for signs like changes in how your breasts or nipples feel or look. If your nipple has clear or bloody discharge, this is also something you should consult your doctor about, according to the foundation.
But if you aren't familiar with your own breasts, it might be hard to notice these types of subtle changes, which is why it's crucial to do regular self-exams at home. In fact, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, 40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers “are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.” The medical center suggests you set a reminder to check yourself at least once a month, preferably toward the end of your period. Taking some time to feel your breasts both standing up and lying down, Johns Hopkins Medicine explains, will give you a better sense of a baseline against which you can measure any potential abnormalities.
Even if you think you'll never get breast cancer, take a cue from Williams and show your body some love by taking a few minutes to check yourself. After all, this type of self-care might just save your life one day.