Huffington Post!

Nina Bahadur
nina.bahadur@huffingtonpost.com
Stunning ‘Woman: Redefined’ Portraits Show How Breast Cancer Reshaped These Womens’ Bodies
Posted: 04/30/2015 5:51 pm EDT Updated: 55 minutes ago

“The photo shoot was the first time someone looked at me like a person and as not a specimen on the exam room table.”

That’s what one woman photographed for the upcoming book Woman: Redefined told the project’s creators, Kristina Hunter and ML Kenneth. The pair have created a book of portraits featuring women who have undergone breast cancer surgery, which they intend to distribute free of charge to Breast Health centers in the U.S. and Canada.

Hunter, a college professor, decided to create the book after her own breast cancer diagnosis in the autumn of 2013.

“When the shock wore off, and we began to investigate our options, my husband and I were disheartened to see only very clinical images of women before and after their surgeries,” Hunter told The Huffington Post. “Moreover, these photos were kept in a binder, in a drawer, in an office. Why the secrecy? Are we not talking about 1 in 9 women? Should we not embrace our new bodies? Doesn’t the unfamiliar become the norm by seeing it?”

Hunter teamed up with artist and photographer ML Kenneth to take portraits of women who have undergone a wide scope of breast surgeries. The women included are a diverse group, pulling from all ages and ethnicities.

“The process of working on the Woman: Redefined project has been humbling, profound, and transformative,” Kenneth told The Huffington Post. “Having these brave women share their bodies, stories and hearts with me has changed forever how I feel about art, beauty and life. Each body, imperfectly beautiful, each woman, completely inspiring. Cancer has taught them to not take life for granted. In turn, they have taught me how to LIVE.”

Hunter and Kenneth hope that their book will help women facing breast cancer by reassuring them that they are not alone — and that their bodies will still be works of art after whatever procedures their treatment may require.

Hunter told HuffPost: “We would like to influence the internal dialogue of women and their spouses when going through breast cancer, ‘What will I look like? Will I still feel like a woman? Will I be sexy? Will I be me?’ And if we can influence a broader social dialogue about women’s bodies and help to improve women’s self-esteem by showing real bodies in a beautiful light, then we have done something worthwhile.”

The book will feature women’s words as well as their photographs. The anecdotes will explore how the subjects feel about their bodies and what their experience with cancer has been like.

“As an artist, I refer to myself as a visual storyteller,” Kenneth said. “How profound, that I get to help these women tell their stories.”

Ultimately, Hunter and Kenneth intend for the book to be a source of hope to anyone affected by breast cancer.

“I want women going through breast cancer to see a future for themselves,” Hunter told HuffPost. “To see that they are and will continue to be more than the disease. That they are whole, and beautiful and perfect.”

Learn more about Woman: Redefined here.

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Almost home

image

What started as a vision, an idea, has moved swiftly to reality. With 32 hours to go on our Kickstarter Campaign, we have raised an impressive 22,232.00. We only have 2,268.00 to go. It has been quite the month. 2 weeks with the exhibition, and the last two weeks have been a flurry of interviews, talks, emails and follow-ups. Thank you to everyone for your generosity. Can you help us reach our goal by passing along http://www.womanredefined.ca? Every little bit helps.

An Unexpected Gift

I met Kristina for the first time in late fall through our mutual friend Tara. Along with being an inspiration on how to live with meaning, Tara penned the book ‘The Compression Garment Diaries. Breast Cancer, An Unexpected Gift’. Kristina and I hit it off immediately. i could see her vision, altered and adjusted though my artist eyes. We collaborated and allowed the project to evolve over several months. I had exhibition space booked for April, and knowing it would be a tight timeline for us to complete, we decided to run ahead and use this space for this body of work. So, for 2 weeks, i photographed 33 beautiful, strong women. My cosy, warm, studio with magical northern light was our workspace. I asked them questions. I listened to their stories. i cried. A lot. Many people, knowing my soft heart, warned me to put my guardrails up, so the project would not consume me emotionally. In reality, the opposite was absolutely necessary. How could I ask these woman to be vulnerable and bare all (literally) without also my own emotional investment? Each and every one of these women have touched me to my very core. What an absolute honour to be part of this.

Last night, midnight, we launched our Kickstarter Campaign. Our goal, to have these images produced into a photography book distributed free of charge to 300 Breast Health Centres across North America. Wow.

My wish for today: this project explodes. becomes bigger than us. larger than our vision. that every woman facing difficult decisions regarding their breast health feels enveloped in support. as they try to adjust to their ‘new normal’ they can reconcile what they see in the mirror, and maybe even find that image looking back at them beautiful.

the studio
the studio

Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing. Keep being beautiful.

ML

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Woman: Redefined – dignity, beauty, and breast cancerWomen on their breast cancer journeys deserve to see beautiful yet realistic images of what they may look like after surgery. Please help make this photo book a reality. The Kickstarter Campaign is up and running!! http://kck.st/1CG0WxU Our goal is to get a photo book to every Breast Health Centre across North America.

Posted by Woman: Redefined on Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Loving the Stories Written on Our Skin

I had to look. It was 3 days after my breast cancer surgery and it was time to take off the layers and layers of bandages. I told my husband not to gasp. I knew that I would have to love my body before surgery as well as after surgery. The bandages came off, and it was OK. I cried, but I kept looking at those scars over and over again; and I began to love them. My husband too. We quickly became so proud of those scars. They were my journey written on my skin. Those scars mean I found the lump now not five years from now. They mean my chances are good, and maybe even great.
I was so proud, I can even say that I love those scars. But not everyone feels that way. It broke my heart to hear other women talk about not wanting to see their scars, not wanting their husbands to see them, not loving the stories written on their skin.
And so this project was born. It is for the women who will come after me. As they sit in the waiting rooms of Breast Health Centers all across the United States and Canada, they should be able to see beautiful images of what their new bodies may look like. This project is for them, to help them see dignity and beauty in their future too.
– Kristina