On her 32nd birthday of all days, Beth Whaanga from Brisbane, Australia, receives some news that makes her world cave in: the mother of four has breast cancer. She also posesses the BRCA2 gene, which promotes the growth of cancer cells in the breast and ovaries. Beth has her breasts amputated and her uterus removed.
But the Australian doesn’t want to hide her scars — they remind her that she is still alive. Together with her friend and photographer, Nadia Masot, she starts the “Under The Red Dress Project,” letting herself be photographed completley naked — revealing all her scars. “Each day we walk past people. These individuals appear normal but under their clothing sometimes their bodies tell a different story,” tells Beth. “It can happen to you.”
Beth posts these revealing photos on Facebook — but not without warning her friends beforehand. “These images are confronting and contain topless material,” she writes. “They are not in any way meant to be sexual. The aim of this project is to raise awareness for breast cancer. If you find these images offensive please hide them from your feed.”
And Beth receives a ton of answers. Many congratulate her and her courage, praising her for her public struggle. Yet 103 people unfriend her immediately after she uploads the pictures. One even writes: “I don’t want to see such drastic pictures on a website where people can’t decide if they want to see that or not, just like it happened to me. That can happen to kids too when they go on Facebook!”
Yet the photogropher Nadia Masot stands behind Beth 100% and the pictures: “For the people who think it’s ‘just not for them’ may just end up being the one who will wish one day they’d paid a bit more attention when it happens to them, only worse because they chose to be offended instead of listening,” she defends the project. “Ignorance is never a better option.”
Double breast amputation. Breast reconstruction. Belly button reconstruction. Removal of the uterus. Weight loss. Persistent hair loss. These photos show mercilessly what Beth had to endure during her cancer illness. “But after the operation, I feel that I will live longer – and that is the best part of all – not just for me, but also for my family.”
In the meantime, more women have let themselves be photographed for the project, all with the same goal: to help affected women with their strength and to create awareness for breast cancer and its treatment. Share this article with all your friends if you suport this special campaign in the fight against cancer!