Sunday, October 31, 2010

Clarity Haynes-The Breast Portrait Project (71)

Clarity says about the project:

The Breast Portrait Project is about portraits of the female torso. It started out of a self portrait I made in my mid 20's when I was feeling really uncomfortable with my body. I did a portrait of my torso as a way to confront those feelings. I found out that making the portrait did work to make me feel much more comfortable and accepting with myself.
I started doing these portraits for other women, which turned out to be a meaningful experience both for the models and for myself. I want to get beyond our judgment on what is beautiful, beyond that mental place of what our fixed ideas (on beauty) are. I want to make each body look so beautiful in its portrait and then I want the viewers to get that beauty too. To me it's exciting to portray women's real bodies which are often invisible in our culture.

Clarity talks more about the project and the upcoming show in February in NYC in the video on kickstarter:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Suana Verelst (70)

"dissection", an analysis of the self...

Suana Verelst

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Linda Molleman, Chantal Molleman (69)

Photos of Chantal Molleman who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. The photos were taken by her sister, artist Linda Molleman.

Chantal Molleman writes:


Vulnerable, destroyed body and mind, I feel like shit all the time.
What does IT want from me ? Why me ?
I’m not myself anymore, IT doesn’t belong to me, I don’t want it anymore !

Diagnosed with breast cancer, MAY 2009.
One large huge breast is a purple foreign object. It doesn’t fit with the rest of my whole person, just hanging there like a big prune with an eye on it, a dead eye with no soul, staring at the rest of my private parts, bald and useless, no hair anywhere !

I’m submitted to twelve chemo’s and thirty three radiations, ‘Gamma rays’ entering my deep soul and burn the flesh away of my once nice breast, a rose blossom, what a shame...
My entire being changing aggressively, I’m very much in pain, very angry at IT and I can’t stop it.

The world outside not existing because it is not my world anymore. I’m powerless... so horrible aching inside and out, and yet I’m searching for the meaning of all this.

Dead sick smoking my lovely cigarette which I cherish deeply, my one and only escape, my only moment for a while, making me happy and ‘ normal’ for a few minutes. My cigarette... How stupid can I be?

Look, the mirror tells me how beautiful I am, still am, bald, yet I can’t see it.
Do I have to surrender, accept and suffer?
Fading concentration, loss of control, I cry it out. Help me ! The mess inside kills me slowly.
There is no hope in my head, my Picasso coloured breast burning continuously like a monster... I want to die !
There is my lovely cigarette, my only companion, killing me too.

With a little needle I try to prick my balloon, find a small hole, how tiny it may be and run away from my captured body. Yet, I do not find the way out to escape from this filthy shell.
No concentration. Perhaps another cigarette? Yes ! What the heck, I am dying anyway.

This fat monster with beautiful blue eyes, crying for attention, credibility and pity, and yet I don’t want it. Screaming for hope and understanding,any encouragement to survive.
Many questions in that bald head of mine crawling around in my brains for so long already. My cigarette ... not real, not logical. I take another nicotine escape.

I’m so tired, burned out and please let me see my grandchild one day. My beloved son who I adore and means the world to me; Please...
Another chemo, number 12 and I say NO ! Enough now, I can’t and will not have it. No more poison.
My body and mind refuse it, and I believe in myself, no struggle for live anymore. Final countdown.

Little things, a flower, the sun, nature and above all my music, my operas.They are all there for me, just for me.
My cigarette.

Regaining power inside by meditation, little things come back to me. Small things that make my life worth living for, appreciation of futilities, I see it all in a different way now.
I’m becoming a master at putting life into perspective.

Don’t take IT so hard on yourself !
My balloon ruptures, I fly away from my cocoon. It’s a renaissance.
I slowly accept the person. I become a beautiful person for myself and other people.
I see again. Eyes were wide shut !
I rejected IT, the ugly Duck, and if IT strikes again, so it will be.

But I’m still here ... with my cigarette.


Chantal Molleman, TEXT, October 2010.
Linda Molleman, PHOTOS, March 2010.

Anonymous (68)


I got the news a week ago –
The high-risk HPV test came back positive.
My ob/gyn didn’t say anything more
Except that I should return in six months.
No consultation; no explanation.
Just that I needed to return in six months.
They were very rude and unsympathetic.

Said diagnosis didn’t include
Any education about its implications.
Knowledge alone is not empowerment.
I had to learn more for myself.
The Internet is rife with falsehoods & misunderstandings;
Misinterpretation and scary stories reign supreme.
Researching HPV online, I was horrified by what I found.

As I learned more I was fraught with worry.
HPV causes all kinds of cancers;
Many don’t have obvious symptoms and go undiagnosed until too late.
HPV is considered a common STI, but I haven’t “sowed my wild oats”
And my only sex partner (in both skin contact and the actual act)
Is the man that I married – he is all that I have known.
But that isn’t true the other way around.

Women are told that they have no way of knowing where they got this.
Some are even told that they don’t need to inform their male partner -
That it won’t affect him and he doesn’t need to know.
He can obliviously keep spreading it around
Without the knowledge that he is doing so
And without ever being blamed for anything.
This leaves him and his future loves / conquests at risk.

Men are rarely acknowledged as carriers
And are not tested to see if they have this.
Double standards demonize women
For any sexual encounters, and shame them.
Once shamed, they don’t talk about it.
It becomes a private matter and their own dark secret,
Their own personal pain, problem and worry.

So the attitude still prevails:
Boys will be boys,
And girls are solely responsible for their own sexual encounters
Whether they get a STI or get pregnant.
Some view HPV as punishment from God for promiscuity.
They imply that cervical & other cancers evidence that punishment.
But why am I being punished for something I didn’t do?

Those who tested positive can feel alone
Even while knowing that 50 – 80% of women are estimated
To have been diagnosed at some point or another.
I have yet to meet another woman who’s gone through this,
Although I haven't talked with many out of my own shame.
I feel dirty, tainted, and undesirable and am fearful for my health and future.
Education is sorely lacking; both women and men deserve better.


The HPV Support Network:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Inne Haine (67)

Inne writes about this cartoon:

For girls, growing up has never been easy. These days it seems even more complex. There are plenty of role models around and often girls lack guidance in shaping their identities. The beautiful, photo shopped faces we know from advertising have become the norm of who we should be as women it seems. Young girls are being rushed to grow up physically, so they can step into the vital, sexy, consuming world of the ‘perfect’ adult shown in the media. How can their minds keep up? How can they see through that? That’s why in the storyline, I allow for the little girl to be just that, a little girl …unaffected by this kind of inner conflict between who she is and who she ‘should’ be.
I remember from my childhood how strong the influence of the group is on the individual. You better try hard to fit in, or so it seems at first. After leaving school, that peer pressure falls away. Suddenly you can be yourself. Who’s perceived as ‘weird’ in school, may very well be special and unique ...