Few brave women come forward to speak about their breast cancer battles, but even fewer are courageously willing to share intimate photos of themselves post-surgery.
Beth Whaanga from Queensland, Australia, a self-proclaimed "breast cancer preventer," teamed up with photographer Nadia Masot after having multiple surgeries to rid her body of cancer in a photo series called "Under the Red Dress".
The moving pictures depict Beth fully naked with labels directing the viewer to which scars correspond to the specific surgery. She posted the images to Facebook with the disclaimer:
“WARNING: these images are confronting and contain topless material. They are not in anyway meant to be sexual. The aim of this project is to raise awareness for breast cancer.”
Beth and Nadia's message was that we have no idea what people are carrying around with them underneath all their layering and clothes. We have scars, we have flaws, we have insecurities — but every body is beautiful and tells its own story.
Regarding the photo shoot, she said,
“At first it was confronting but after a little while rather empowering. A good experience, my scars are not ugly they mean I’m alive.”
Despite Beth's good intentions, however, the photo shoot went viral after people complained it was "inappropriate content." Both Beth and her sister, Emma, wrote powerful responses, chief among them being that these Internet trolls "missed the point and I feel sad for you."
Beth's photos were meant to encourage breast awareness, as evidenced by her profound images and accompanying commentary. The fact that she needed to even explain herself and her photo series makes us question humanity.
But, like any true fighter, she and Nadia are hoping to continue their photo series with even more volunteers to show that "cancer effects everyone."