Flat in Piccadilly Circus

#ShowUs in London – a topless image of my flat torso, showing my mastectomy scars appears in Piccadilly Circus.

May was a very exciting and surreal month for me. Project #ShowUs arrived in London and my topless image featured on some of the biggest billboards in the capital.

The gift that keeps giving is how I now think of Project #ShowUs, the campaign that has been launched by Dove, Getty Images and Girlgaze.

Two weeks ago, I arrived in Piccadilly Circus in the centre of London. I was there to look for Sophie Mayanne’s image of me lying on my bed with no top and no breasts. I’d heard that #ShowUs had landed in London and that the images of me and the other featured women of the campaign were now up on the most iconic billboards in the city.

Well, I didn’t have to look very hard, or wait very long. As I turned the corner from Regent Street, I saw a huge image of myself high up above the street. It was probably the most wonderful but surreal moment of my life. To think that just over three years ago I’d had my first mastectomy and now there I was in all my technicolour flatness for all to see.

Amazingly, I then bumped into Sophie, who was there to see her work displayed opposite Eros. We were thrilled to see other and have a lovely selfie of us in front of that huge image of me.

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Photographer & subject

More was to follow. The #ShowUs images were also all the way up an escalator at Oxford Street tube station, on a huge billboard at Waterloo Station, ad and on an advertising board outside WestfieldWhite City shopping centre. I managed to see them all except for the one at Waterloo.

There has been some media coverage, which is great as it means that I can continue to advocate for choice after mastectomy and that living flat is a positive choice and an alternative to reconstruction. It’s great to have such a high profile platform to work from.

I was included in two articles in Stylist: ‘Four women on what representation means to them’ and ‘The new beauty rules we should actually be following’

A repeat appearance on BBC Radio 5’s Nihal Arthanayake show followed. You can find my interview at 2:16.26 on the link above. We chatted about the project, how I came to be part of it and what it feels like to have my body so prominently displayed. Nihal is really supportive and always keen to hear how my advocacy is progressing. I very much value his support.

Another radio interview went live today and this time I was joined in the studio by my daughter Laura. We were interviewed by Jo Good for BBC Radio London in conjunction with the Listening Project. The interview starts at 2:07.40. Laura and I recorded a conversation for the Listening Project back in February and it was played today for the first time. The clip is all about mother daughter relationships and how our roles were reversed when I had my first mastectomy. The interview is a different take on my journey from mastectomy to billboard. It’s a very emotional listen for me, but I’m so glad that we were invited to participate in the Project

I have really enjoyed seeing my image pop up all over the world over the last two months. New York, London, Moscow, Santiago, Madrid to name a few. And it’s been great to have been interviewed and to have been featured in numerous online and print publications. But, and this has come as a surprise, I feel emotionally exhausted by all of the coverage.

The exposure and coverage was what I set out to achieve at the start of 2018. My aim was and is to increase the visibility and representation of flat women. There are thousands of us and we are rarely if ever seen in advertising and media. I want to normalise and destigmatise the sight of a breastless female chest. And I feel that I have gone some way to achieving this.

I feel elated and deflated at the same time… and emotionally exhausted as I said. I’m not sure why yet but I have a feeling that it has something to do with the speed at which this has all happened. It may also have something to do with a feeling that the #ShowUs campaign has gone a little under the radar in this country. That sounds a bit strange when the first half of this blog is given over to all of the coverage that the project received.

But… I was expecting so much more. There, I’ve said it out loud! But I think now that my expectations were much too high. Being one of the featured women was huge for me as part of my campaigning. It was always much more for me than being part of #ShowUs. I wanted to use it as a springboard for shouting as loud as I could about living flat and I have a slight feeling of not being heard as much as I wanted.

I’m sure in the months to come I’ll look back and be amazed at what a great impact  being part of #ShowUs has had. And I have much more to say. Body acceptance is going to be a big part of my work going forward, as well as continuing the conversation about representation of beauty.

For now though I’m going to go on holiday. And that will be an achievement in itself.

 

 

 

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