I posted this blog on fb on August 8, 2015 in response to a woman named Beth Whaanga who posted her mastectomy scars on fb and 100 of her friends, unfriended her…here is what really needs to happen:
As an expert Areola Architect, my specialty is replicating photo-realism areola's and nipples in 3D with permanent ink over the top of mastectomy scars, giving the sexy back, making survivors whole again. When people discover what I do, including close friends and business colleagues, I hear that they are 'offended' by the photos I have on my business card showing what post mastectomy looks like - this is incredible to me. The problem lies with the public opinion over misinformation, lack of education about what it means to have a mastectomy. Breasts are removed sometimes completely, including the removal of the dark color skin that surrounds the nipple, called an areola and the nipples themselves are removed as well! The general population has no idea what survivors are left with after surgeries are done, the horrific scars and sadness the survivor feels over the amputation of the breasts/areola's/nipples. What if this happens to you?
As you can imagine, a woman's psyche is affected negatively after mastectomy, even though she is thrilled to be alive, she is left with constant reminders of the cancer every time she looks at her naked chest in the mirror. After these brave women and men (yes men get breast cancer too) have survived this ordeal, they are treated with horror and shame by their friends - are you kidding me? This topic is NOT to be discussed or viewed in public? Really? Is this the byzantine dark ages or 2015 where every topic in the world is available online?
In my professional opinion, the real face of breast cancer lives on the chest of every survivor (male or female). Going topless in NYC is legal, and yet news coverage blurs out the areola - why has our society deemed the areola - the circle of sin? Why doesn't Dr. Oz discuss and show on tv, the areola and nipple like he does for every other part of the human body? I'd be happy to present my areola paintings on tv and educate everyone about the reality of breasts after mastectomy and what can be done to get them back - easily, quickly (with NO MORE SURGERY) - and so that they last forever. Does anyone have a connection to a tv show, can you hook me up?
Areola tattooing is about education and education is key, education is power! Downplaying this topic hinders survivors growth and any 'friends' who don't want to see it, are not friends at all. And from my experience, since breast cancer is so wide spread, every ONE of the people who unfriended Beth Whaanga knows someone personally who has breast cancer, has had it, or is recently diagnosed.
Its time to grow up America. Why is there shame attached to the anatomical body part that feeds us and keeps us alive as infants? The areola/nipple is shunned because it has been sexualized by our society and religious beliefs that hold no bearing in scientific, basic human anatomy. And here's the kicker: we ALL have them. Everyone of us.
Think about this: the male areola/nipple is identical to the female in every way, there is no difference. We accept the male chest, topless, naked on tv but we shame the female to hide? The female breastmound (the soft, fleshy, breast part) is ok to show on tv, on covers of major magazines, everywhere....but the areola/nipple is not, females only. What the what?
THIS MAKES NO SENSE!
Here's a simple question:
Why do women HAVE breasts with areola's and nipples?
What are they used FOR?
What purpose do they serve?
When America stops sexualizing the female breast, and remembers the true function of the breast and the courage of the survivor who went through hell and lived to tell about it, the public will embrace the reality of the loss and the joy of the recovery. You cant solve a problem until you know what the problem looks like!
Listen to the survivor, look at their scars, ask them if they like the way they look after mastectomy. This is honoring their fight and their win! Survivors have a real chance of discovering their NON-SURGICAL solutions to getting colorful, vibrant areolas and nipples back - for the rest of their lives when they find specialists like cathi.ink.
And btw: my colleague Vinnie Myers and I agree; surgeons and nurses should NOT be doing areola tattooing - they are not trained fine artists! They are not trained in tattooing! They know nothing of light and shadow! They can not produce a believable areola/nipple set as a painting or drawing, yet they're implanting ink into the skin of the survivor using ego alone. They use the wrong needles, temporary ink that fades and disappears, they hurt the patient causing more problems, making a mess that cathi.ink has to fix. The current acceptable process of having a medical professional do tattoos is beyond ludicrous, it is archaic and should not be allowed by law. It is time to give the honor back to the survivor and stop patronizing their desire to have colorful areolas and nipples after mastectomy.
FACT: There is absolutely NO SURGICAL way to attach permanent color to human skin. It never works. Areola cutting surgery looks awful, is too big too small, square, cut in the wrong place and leaves white/pink/purple scars that scream, "LOOK! I have no color on my breasts - just ridiculous cut scars!" Nipple building surgery, nipple reconstruction never works either! I see all sorts of attempts by all sorts of surgeons and every single time the nipple flattens out, fails and does not work. After two or more additional surgeries for the poor mastectomy survivor, they are still left without color and covered in scars, but placated into believing more surgery is the only solution.
Are we really going to stand in judgement over the loss of breasts, because we dont like the way they look after they've been amputated? Do we the public really recommend that survivors keep them covered up, who wants to see that? Really? Is this the most compassion we can muster? Maybe now the conversation can change, since you are now aware of the real story here.
America's aversion to the female breast needs to come out of the closet. It makes no sense other than societal control to keep everyone in the dark about the aftermath of breast cancer & mastectomy. Now is the right time to do more than 'walk for a cause" - accept the facts. Start talking to the survivors you know. They will be so glad you did and you alone can make a difference in their life.