Of Scars

One of my biggest pet peeves with breast cancer awareness campaigns such as “Save the Tatas” is the emphasis on the tits, and not the women attached to them. Of course, anything done to raise awareness and money for breast cancer is a great thing, I just wish we could focus more on the woman, on the person that those breasts belong to. It’s more important to save the person, not the boobs.

Enter my friend Kate. She has started a project titled “Of Scars.” She conceived the project after watching her mother’s own battle with breast cancer. From the site:

The project, titled Of Scars, aims to offer insight into the emotional journey through breast cancer. Photographs offer breast cancer survivors a unique opportunity to put their surgical scars on display, and celebrate these marks as proof of survival and badges of honor. “There’s a whole industry devoted to hiding these scars,” collaborator Kate Kunkel says. “You can buy lingerie designed to conceal mastectomy scars, or bikinis that hide them. There’s a message that scars are ugly. But they’re proof of survival, and survival isn’t ugly. We thought it was time to display their beauty.”

Though the project is not the first to display the bodies of breast cancer survivors, it is unique in its vision. “We want to start a new conversation,” Kunkel says. “With 1 in every 8 women dealing with breast cancer at some point in their lives, these scars are statistically more normal than being a natural red head. We want to ask ourselves why we tell women that these scars are abnormal, why we’re uncomfortable with them. We want to invite viewers to realize that these scars are everywhere, and they’re an amazing affirmation of life.”

The project is tentatively scheduled to open in October, in honor of breast cancer awareness month. If you know anyone that would like to contribute, please email OfScarsProject (at) gmail (dot) com.

This entry was posted in Awesomeness, Caterwauling About The Patriarchy, Standards of Beauty, With A Little Help From My Friends. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. MargaretNo Gravatar
    Posted February 23, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    This is awesome.


  2. CapNo Gravatar
    Posted February 23, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I commend the effort, but having just built a Brand New Cancer Center in Los Angeles, The Disney Cancer Center. One of our biggest departments, one which was requested by the patients is the Beauty Center. Which provides wigs, and prosthetics for patients. Their goal is too conceal the scars from Breast Cancer opearations and give back a sense or normalcy in a life that has been turned upside down by such a horrible disease. And sometimes a cancer patient and survivor just wants back that normalcy the life they had before the disease. At the Disney Cancer Center they offer this service along with counseling to help the paitent through this life changing event.
    I applaud the effort of, “The Project” As people cope in different ways.

  3. Advizor54No Gravatar
    Posted February 23, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    One of the most beautiful women I have ever met had lost her left breast to cancer 2 years before I met her. We knew each other for 6 months before she shared this part of her life, but on the evening she did, she showed me her body and let me touch and feel the scars that had been so much of her life up until then.

    She smiled as I saw her for the first time, as I traced the pink lines that challenged her vision of herself. She put one hand on each breast and told me that she loved her body because it had survived the loss and pain of her cancer. She needed to know that I could love it to.

    After that night, it was never an issue. She wore clothes that hid her scars, filled out her curves, and made her look, in her words, “normal.” She did not let the world define her by her scars, by her loss. She benefited from support groups and loving friends of all types and would probably donate to a project like this to support those who need to heal in this way.

    More power to the women who fight this terrible battle with courage and strength, and double that to all those with strength left over to help others.

  4. RedNo Gravatar
    Posted February 23, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    I feel the same way about those awareness campaigns. The boobs don’t die at alarming high numbers every year from the cancer, the women do. And women aren’t any less womanly for having had to lose a breast (or both) to cancer. How should the women who survived cancer, but lost their breasts, feel about these “Save The Boobs/Tatas” campaigns? Their boobs were lost in battle! Are we really going to tell these fearless women that, though they fought the good fight, they’re still losers because they couldn’t save their boobs? What a terrible message.

  5. AprilNo Gravatar
    Posted February 24, 2010 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Advizor: Your comment made me cry.

    This is a great campaign and I think it’s a great way for women to learn to feel comfortable with their bodies post mastectomy. Even though I”ve not had breast cancer *knock on wood* I have had to live through an amputation. I feel like the women Cap mentioned. I just want to be normal. This is why I wear pants every day. When I wear pants, people cannot see my prosthetic. I don’t get stared at in public.

    I do not care what people think and I openly discuss what happened to me and I am most certainly comfortable with it. However, when I walk into a grocery store I want to be like everyone else. I don’t want to be the center of attention every where I go. Since my gait is normal, no one can tell I have a prosthetic when I wear pants; giving me a sense of normalcy. I do step out of my comfort zone every summer and go to the beach. And I actually wear a bikini on the beach in front of everyone. Every year it takes every nerve in my body to get me to initially walk onto that beach. I hope that one day I’m able to do it with more confidence.

    It takes strong women to do what the women of the Of Scars Project and I commend them for their bravery. I commend your friend Kate for starting this project.

    • Kate KunkelNo Gravatar
      Posted February 25, 2010 at 1:23 am | Permalink

      These comments are amazing, and we SO appreciate the feedback.

      As the project unfolds, I hope it will become clear that we are in no way condemning a woman’s desire to return to a sense of “normalcy” after breast cancer. In fact, our decision to use a woman who opted to reconstruct as our first subject was a deliberate one. We are in no way authorities on any woman’s body but the ones we belong in, and we do not seek to state a position on the best options for a full emotional, spiritual and physical recovery from breast cancer. It’s different for everyone.

      What we’ll be showing, in the next few months, are images of women who’ve made a very wide variety of choices. But even the world’s most perfect reconstruction leaves scars, and I guess that’s our point. After breast cancer, you can have a sense of normalcy, a shadow of the life and the body you had before, but the truth is that in many ways, the life of a breast cancer survivor will never be the same.

      Our point is simple: surviving is, in and of itself, a beautiful thing. And we hope that our project helps women to be proud of the bodies that they live in, no matter what form they take.

      PLEASE email us your comments and ideas. We’re dying to know.


  6. Angel deSanguineNo Gravatar
    Posted March 30, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this. The timing was strangely on point. The day this was posted (and that I reposted on my site) was the say that, unbeknownst to me at the time, my aunt found out that she has ductal and invasive rapid growth breast cancer. She has opted not to have reconstructive surgery and, thus, has a whole new realm of fears to deal with that come with that decision, not to mention her ‘normal’ is changed forever. I have sent my mom (her sister) a link to the Of Scars site so that when the time is right she can draw strength and empowerment from the women featured there. Thank you again for sharing this.

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  1. By Of Scars « Dirty Sexy Thoughts on February 23, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    [...] evening that I think just has to be shared. I was over on Britni’s blog and came across a post that I just had to repost here because, the way I see it, the more people that know about it, the [...]

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