This (October) being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and as the subject is close to my heart, I thought it appropriate to do a piece that not only pays deference to the topic, but also addresses the stark realities of this illness. Moreover, I wanted to honor - among all those who have battled this illness - survivors. While pink tee shirts, hats, and ribbons are emblematic of hope and promise in the fight against breast cancer, one should not lose sight of the reality that survivorship, while being the most coveted and optimal outcome, is not a storybook return to life before breast cancer, but an evolution of sorts... a migration to a "new normal". And this new frontier is never without scars, vestiges of real success stories in real lives, and reminders that true beauty is not defined by cultural norms that emphasize - even demand - some elusive, fantastical perfection. At the end of the day, such norms are merely artificial constructs. True beauty is, in fact, perfectly imperfect.
HBA Girl Zoe was developed expressly for this tribute. She will see work in other shoots, but she will retain her lumpectomy scar (and may even keep her hair short) as an acknowledgement of the challenges which breast cancer presents, but also as an immutable declaration that the tide is finally turning. My hope is that breast cancer's days on this planet are numbered.
Congratulations, Zoe. You are a truly beautiful - and increasingly achievable - benchmark for every woman who receives your diagnosis. Someday, you will be the rule... not the exception.