Somewhere out there, is a woman, who cannot wear a bra because she lost both breasts, and on the other extreme, someone just went and got breast implants put in, because she felt the size of her breasts validated her sexuality. Another woman is currently recovering from a breast reduction operation, because her breasts had grown too heavy for her spine, but that’s just the surface, we don’t truly know how deep their stories actually go.
Being a woman isn’t defined by the size of your breasts. Well at least it shouldn’t be. Their shape, perkiness, whether they’re saggy, stretch-marked, firm or tender. You are the only one who gets to decide what the story behind them is! They are a part of YOUR body! So your breasts are your story.
The notion of not wearing a bra for a day or a month in support of cancer patients, or survivors, might seem futile, or like an attention seeking mechanism. It’s even considered a taboo, too revealing and highly inappropriate in some instances, but it’s more intense than what the human eye can see. It symbolises moral espouse to the highest extent possible. Women who have to undergo treatment wear bras for more than just support. They wear them because they may be hiding scars or uncomfortable prosthetics and inserts that make their breasts appear “normal”.
When I saw the women in the ‘Beyond the Pink month’ Photo series, I saw strong women, women who aren’t defined by social standards. Women who are saying, ‘Yes, I have bras, but my thoughts are with that woman who destroyed her entire bra collection out of rage at the thought that she can never wear them again?’ These women have different bodies, and yet have put aside their insecurities to say, ‘yes, take this picture and publish it. I am making the choice to remove my bra in honour of those who are no longer able to wear them and quite frankly had no choice. It doesn’t make me cheap, it doesn’t deduct anything from my life, but it gives hope, courage and awareness to someone who sees this and realises the intensity of the situation.’
The pictures are a reminder that who you are isn’t defined by what you’ve lost. It’s defined by what you’ve fought to get and keep!
My breasts are a sacred. More than anything, they are the constant reminder, that even though other women have lost their lives to breast cancer, they left a life-giving story to women across the world. A story that has empowered all the women left behind. A story that is making all other women stronger and wiser as they continue the fight against cancer, either through regular check-ups or screening and eating healthy, exercising effectively or even just pushing for better resources and equipment in hospitals around the country.
Raising awareness is a solid first step. The ‘Beyond the Pink Month’ Photo series should remain a constant reminder to all women that beauty is boldness. Boldness is empowering yourselves to be a movement pushing to better every woman in every aspect of their lives. Be it health, social, political or economic. All women deserve the best, and so maybe it starts with the breasts!
Lastly, of course, my personal pick would be yours truly’s picture, the red shoe and the bra. The red shoe and bra symbolise the colour of blood and fire. The love that remains forever in the hearts of those grieving for the loss of their loved ones, and the desire for the current patients to be at the end of that road saying, “I kicked cancer in the butt”. They symbolise sexuality, strength, leadership, courage, vigour, willpower, rage, anger, danger, vibrancy, radiance, and determination. Women’s issues, like breast cancer, are not problems that go away after a bra-less month. So we should get involved in all issues that affect women, and find out what fundraising events are happening in our communities — not just for a month, but all year long. This month is the 16 days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV). If you hadn’t already started getting involved maybe you can start here.
Let it be known, that Cancer is a word, not a sentence. It is possible to do something about any situation.
Article written by Cheryl Vengesa, a 22 year old 3rd year student at the University of Botswana. Majoring in public relations and radio and TV broadcasting which is quite a forte for her. She is passionate about music, art and societal issues. She is an aspiring PR practitioner and radio personality and she is an ambitious and opinionated young woman who believes in the power of her words.
All images taken from Her Zimbabwe Pink Month Photo series by Kresiah Mukwazhi