Sunday, January 5, 2014

Babies love to suck on them. Adults like to play with them. Women like to tease and show them off a little with their cleavages. Angelina Jolie cut hers off for medical reasons. Yes, I am talking about those fascinating all purpose beautiful breasts that women are equipped with. Not those triangle fleshy messes that fat men insist on walking around with uncovered on beaches.  Why do women have to cover their’s up?
Even in the world of snap chats and texting and Facebook where everyone is sending everybody pictures of everything lately, I think most would still shy away from sending out a still disturbing picture of themselves after breast removal surgery. Except that is exactly what a once super-model did 20 years ago and had the photo published on the cover of The New York Times Magazine.  It would still be shocking to most people today.  On Sunday August 15, 1993, it appeared.  It was a glamorous lay out but a glaring mastectomy scar.  Now, no one likes to look at scars but it is even worse when it is on a beautiful woman.  All scars represent a glaring reminder of pain and suffering physically and mentally

A breast defines a woman, her sexuality her power as the birthing vessel to humanity.  Women should be worshiped for their powers.  The message of the article was that you can’t look away anymore.  The model Matuschka took the photograph of herself.  In the 90’s there were no press coverage, and there was no visual to go with the taboo subject.  The startling image was supposed to start a national conversation about the subject of rising breast cancer in America.  It started a revolution of letters to the publisher with all kinds of opinions being tossed around.  Women even wrote that they were able to hide their scars from their husbands for years.

She wanted people to embrace the problem and share the hurt  then . Now 20 years later this past May actress Angelina Jolie posed on the cover of Time Magazine fully clothed in a black shirt revealing nothing but her testimony and people still thought it should have just been her personal private matter. Many praised her for telling the world her problem but she immediately had reconstructive surgery.  I assume no ugly scars present on her.  No one wants to see the scars . A group called The Scar Project had their photo’s removed from Facebook. Then an on line petition demanded that Facebook post the pictures back , and they did but not all the pictures.

There is a book out called Our Bodies, Ourselves that is now in it’s 9th printing that includes a mastectomy section. It has become a guide to women’s sexual and reproductive matters.    We live in a culture where large breasts are still idealized. There was a documentary called Absolutely Safe on the subject of breast implants where they interviewed 7 year old girls who already thought that girls who had breasts were prettier.  Really? Should the size or even having breasts define a person?  I hope not. Women are so much more than the size of their body parts.  On the other hand, with men, size is everything.  Women prefer size. Big sizes.

We are still embedded in the idea that women should have breasts even if the silicone implants are equally unsafe as the cancerous flesh they originally had.  The facts are that more than 230,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this new year in the United States. More than 39,000 are expected to die from it. But since 1993, the year the Mariska photo was published, breast cancer death rates have actually dropped 30% per cent. For those women who had mastectomies  between 1898 and 2000, which is the most recent data, the most women that got reconstructive surgery nearly doubled from 20% to nearly 40% per cent. This was driven by a 200% increase in implant use.

Since 1998 Federal Law requires that if  a woman’s health insurance pays for a mastectomy, it must also pay for reconstruction.  The one breasted super=model admits that no st women need to feel whole with 2 breasts and the world still cannot get used to that sight.   At the age of 60 she got liposuction fat removed from her love handles and had her own fatty tissue implanted in her breast by Doctor Christina Hahn , an Associate Professor at New York University School of Medicine who  gave this woman renewed self-esteem and made her feel whole once again who dared to be the poster woman for the pain and suffering women suffer who survive  breast cancer .

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