By Dalila-Johari Paul
Beth Whaanga posted naked pictures of herself and lost 100 friends on Facebook. Then they reported her to the social network police.
Her crime? The registered nurse was trying to raise awareness about breast cancer by showing real pictures of a woman's body post-surgery.
But with friends like these...you know the rest. However, this time, Facebook was on the side of the breast-bearer. Guess they made some changes in their policy.
At only 32, the Australian mother of four children was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. Doctors also told her she had the BRCA2 gene, which predisposes women to the disease.
Instead of being ashamed of her new body post-surgery, she teamed up with photographer friend Nadia Mascot. Together the duo embarked on the "Under the Red Dress" project.
But don't call Whaanga a survivor just yet. She prefers the term preventer.
There has been a lot of talk this morning about me being a breast cancer survivor; I'm not sure that this is the right term. I think breast cancer preventer is more accurate. Yes, I did have major cellular changes to my left breast, and yes, I do have the BCRA2 gene mutation, but I was lucky enough to find these changes before they became aggressive or spread. My life was not in danger, I didn't have to fight. I was very fortunate. Of course, my mastectomy was necessary; it would not have been performed if it was not, [and] without it, my situation would be very different.
I'd hate to think that women and men, who have fought the fight or are still fighting and are true survivors, or worse, have lost the fight, thought I was comparing my experience to theirs or devaluing their fight. I'm grateful everyday that I didn't need to go through what they are going though and have been through.
The aim of the photo shoot was to make women and men aware. Aware of any changes to their body, to show that cancer does not discriminate between gender, race, or age. It affects all of us. For those of us who have been lucky enough to prevent their condition from continuing or occurring, we have a responsibility to make others aware.
So why hide? She certainly didn't break any Facebook rules.
“These images are confronting and contain topless material,” Whaanga wrote on Facebook.
“They are not in any way meant to be sexual. The aim of this project is to raise awareness for breast cancer. If you find these images offensive, please hide them from your feed.
Each day we walk past people. These individuals appear normal, but under their clothing, sometimes their bodies tell a different story... The old and the young, age does not matter, self-examination is vital. It can happen to you.
Need we say anymore?
Photos by Nadia Mascot on Beth Whaanga's Facebook page