When I was tapping away late one night this week, I came across Beth Whaanga’s story, shared by her amazing sister Emma Rayner. Deservedly, it has dominated the media today. Online, radio, television and hopefully on the front cover of some newspapers and magazines in the next few days. Stay tuned, I definitely don’t think it’s the last we will hear about it.
When I first read the Facebook post which detailed some confronting images of Beth’s post surgery body, I was initially in disbelief. Not because of the images, which I found simply stunning, but by the fact that Emma’s post mentioned that Beth had lost 103 friends on Facebook after posting the images. What the?
My first reaction was ‘is this a joke’? Then I noticed Emma’s post was coming from a location ‘near me’. I investigated further and found it to be very authentic indeed and it’s a bonus that we live in neighbouring suburbs.
I still find it hard to believe that Beth lost 103 friends on Facebook when she shared the images. It’s made me wonder, ponder and have some pretty deep thought today about the whole ‘beauty’ thing.
Weren’t we all taught that beauty is only skin deep?
Beth bravely shared the images, taken by her friend and photographer Nadia Masot. The images are stunning! The first photo is of Beth in a red dress which I’d actually love to own myself! I don’t know about you, but I think Beth looks like a supermodel in this image:
The second photo is where the controversy started. For this, Beth lost 103 ‘friends’ and I must admit that I struggle to even type here that they were her ‘friends’.
I’ll admit it, the image isn’t the ‘normal’ depiction of women that we are bombarded with in the media, there’s no doubt about that. But what confuses me is this…..
Why is it offensive? Why do people cringe at the sight of a beautiful woman showing us her body in its natural form? Is it because she’s without the normal smoothing, special effects or image clean up that we have all become accustomed to?
As someone who is about to undergo a Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy myself, I’m not only inspired by Beth’s bravery and beauty, I’m willing to support Beth and her family in their plight to get other women on board to share and bare their bodies after surgery. But I must admit, I find myself wanting more!!
I want Beth’s image to inspire women to accept and love their bodies regardless of the lumps and bumps, dimples and pimples, moles and fat rolls or scars and marks.
We have become a society obsessed by the way we look. The imagery we see of photoshopped supermodels is not only appalling, it’s destroying our confidence, it’s forcing women (and it starts with girls), to objectify themselves unnecessarily and in reality, not one single woman out there in the world is perfect. No-one looks like the magazine covers, not even the models themselves. Mia Freedman’s Mamamia site is a fantastic reference for some truly inspiring and uplifting articles about beauty, body image and retouching.
I also loved reading the Mamamia blog today about Beth’s double mastectomy story.
Beth is a hero, not only for fighting cancer and winning, but for sharing her fantastically alive body with us.
We all have bodies like Beth Whaanga, our imperfections differ, our scars may be a result of something completely unrelated to cancer, but we all ultimately have something that we could probably photoshop to look ‘better’. FFS, it’s NOT better, it’s fake and it’s absolutely bullshit!!
If you haven’t already seen it, spend your next lunch break watching this clip from a recent TEDxSouthBankWomen conference I attended.
When will it all change? Beth has inspired something very special today, I am looking forward to it continuing.