The Living Breast

Today I heard of this for the first time: The Living Breast. There's a local artist who paints breasts. Doesn't paint pictures of breasts. Paints pictures on breasts. And on chests where breasts used to be. Then a photographer snaps them and they turn them into greeting cards. Money going, naturally, for breast cancer research, in fact, a "significant percentage of your purchase is donated to breast cancer research and advocacy." I don't know what that means.

The painted breasts and chests are quite beautiful, with bright swirls and stripes and flowers and a branch. It's a shame that the models can't show themselves off in public. Covering yourself with paint isn't the same as wearing clothes.

I don't know how I feel about these images. Painting over the scarred skin makes it beautiful. Painting over the unblemished breast makes it beautiful, too. What is it when the paint wears off? I suppose the artist is showing the women, and the public, that post-surgery bodies can be beautiful. Do I think my own puckered scars are beautiful? No. But they don't bother me. I'm generally skeptical about projects like this. I'm not sure why. I felt the skepticism in me as soon as I opened the web page. Because it's an idea that can't be good because I didn't think of it first? Because I don't know where the artist stands on cure vs. prevention? Because the bodies are merely canvases? I don't know.


Jonah said...

It's an interesting website and it's bothersome that the specifics of how much and where the money goes aren't given. I notice that the address of The Living Breast is in residential East Rogers Park.



I didn't know about The Living Breast website. I think it's cool.

I have a tattoo covering my missing tit. It's a sun/moon mosaic. It hides my mastectomy scar.

My tattoo helps me feel like a cancer victor rather than a cancer victim.

Congratulations on the 2009 publication of your book "The Cancer Bitch"!

Your Friend,


Anonymous said...

sorry, the editor in me . . . perhaps if you went for a more precise definition of "projects like this" (your final paragraph), you might get a better feel for what makes you skeptical???

Cancer Bitch said...

What do I mean by "projects like this"? I guess I mean projects that support breast cancer survivors and somehow cover up the reality of the survivors' lives. Projects that are vague about the money they donate to the cause.
--c. bitch

Anonymous said...

Okay, then I wonder . . . From what I've heard/read/come to understand, having cancer is a kind of assault on one's pre-cancer identity (as one person I know said it, "what it takes away is your identity as a healthy person"). I'm sure that other aspects of identity are affected as well. So how does one move forward? what does one make of it? cover it in an artful way? This is one of many possible responses. It's a fertile subject.

The money is separate from that identity thing,I think. It seems more political-philosophical. But maybe not. Maybe it could also be seen in a metaphorical way, tho I'm drawing a blank right now in trying to articulate what it might be.

Anonymous said...

Oh, scratch that. If you're the cancer bitch, it's practically your job to be skeptical. Also annoyed, dismissive.

Cancer Bitch said...

Where do you go after your breasts have been painted? I mean, what do you do next? I guess hang up the photo of them. But it seems weird to me that you celebrate the beauty of what you have by covering it up. But as you said, I'm a tough customer.

Cancer Bitch said...

And Julie, did the tattoos hurt? I'm sure you've seen the famous poster with Deena Metzger, right, and her tattoo?

Allmycke said...

This is especially for Susan Messer: in particular my post from March
25th. My thoughts are simply a different take on the issue 'What does Cancer do to me as a person?'

I also find the paintings quite nice - but looking at them leaves a slightly sour taste in my mouth. Another scam whereby someone makes a buck (lots of them???) by claiming to donate an undisclosed % to cancer research. We don't need more of those around!
I recently read (somewhere) that most of the money collected for cancer research goes to developing new medicines, NOT to finding a cure. That figures - once there is a cure, the pharmaceutical their bestest cash cow!

Allmycke said...

That last sentence should have read:
That figures - once there is a cure, the pharmaceutical companies loose their bestest cash cow!

The Fifty Foot Blogger said...

I think the point is: anything with the word "breast" in it will get publicity.

Sudipta Das said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sudipta Das said...

Hello Carolyn
on this issue I fully agree with you. but If we want to combat against a dreadful disease

like cancer we need a comprehensive knowledge of the cancer symptoms that can

lead to the infliction of the disease which would help us to nullify

its consequences at the elementary level.

thank you

sudipta das



I just saw your comment on my comment on this post :-)

Yes, my tattooing hurt -- but not as painful as a pap smear. I hate pap smears with a passion.

The tattoo took six hours and two sessions. The pain went up and down and up and down throughout the process. My tattooist and I enjoyed a couple of beers together when it was finished.

That Deena Metzger poster is gorgeous -- but I can't see her tattoo very well.

Keep up the good living and writing, my fine friend!