Laura Dodsworth is a photographer and author of Bare Reality: 100 women, their breasts, their stories. This book brings together photographs without touching the breasts of 100 women as well as their stories filled with courage, honesty, humor and emotion.
1. HOW WAS THE BOOK BARE REALITY BORN?
We see breasts everywhere, in magazines, on television, on posters, on the Internet, but real breasts are a taboo subject. I was fascinated by the dichotomy between the breasts that are shown to consumers and the image we have in private. When I was younger, I felt that my breasts were not, literally, up to the "perfect" breasts I saw in the media. It is common not to feel very comfortable with her appearance, but the image of the woman has never been under such pressure as in our time. Between all the sexualized images of the woman and photos retouched in a systematic way, we are confronted with an ideal of beauty impossible to reach.
I did not recognize myself in the images and portraits of women I saw in the media. Bare Reality is a creative and personal response to this state of affairs. This exchange with 100 women helped me to deconstruct these cultural myths and to define myself as a woman in a new way.
Breasts do not represent the same thing from one person to another. Their primary function is to feed our newborns. In Western culture, they are considered the most important sexual attribute, such as a woman's sexual business card. For some, they are a symbol of maternity and femininity. They can also be erogenous zones. Yet for others, they can be a source of disappointment, inconvenience, or be responsible for health problems. Talking about their breasts allowed these women to tell particularly important stories in their lives as women. Breasts, already fascinated, have become the catalyst for a conversation about what it means to be a woman.
2. IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT IS THE SCOPE OF THE MESSAGE THAT THIS PROJECT DISSEMINATES?
Simply seeing normal breasts, which oppose the perfection that the media impose on us, can be shocking for some people, especially when it comes to raw breasts, not retouched and scarred by cancer. Yet in the UK, one in eight women will develop breast cancer. The loss of a breast, the scars, the diagnosis, the treatment and the remission have different meanings according to the women. We are all complex individuals, with varied personalities. I wanted to tell the stories of these women and share the reality as it is. It was not about wrapping it in cotton. We need to tell the truth. They look like this. These are the feelings they experience.
3. IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF YOUR BOOK ON THE PUBLIC?
I hope he moves and encourages people. I received very touching messages from women and men of all ages. This book will open your eyes and understand our diversity while hearing the stories that women can tell through their bodies. Many women think that they are too big or too small, that their skin is too flabby or that they have too much or not enough of something. After seeing the photographs in the book, I hope they will regain their confidence. I hope it will give young women a glimpse of their potential future. The men showed unfailing support for this project. They said how important it was for them to understand the women's point of view. After completing Bare Reality, I enjoy myself more as a woman, I love my chest more and I feel a lot of respect and tenderness for women's life experiences. My wish is that this book has the same effect on everyone.
4. IS BREAST CANCER AWARENESS A CAUSE YOU CARE ABOUT?
When I created Bare Reality, I met amazing women who shared very personal life stories with me. This experience has transformed me. I always knew that one aspect of Bare Reality would be to contribute by creating a dialogue about breast cancer. But I did not anticipate how important this aspect would be for me after meeting and interviewing the women who took part in this project. Their stories were, as you can imagine, particularly moving. Working with Stella McCartney on this project seemed to me to be a natural extension of Bare Reality.
5. HOW CAN WE ACT FOR BREAST CANCER PREVENTION?
I think it's important to be honest. Sometimes, we tend to put aside the hardest aspects so as not to frighten others. I think the truth has more weight. If we look at these 12 women, we notice that we have 12 different experiences and results. As some of them have said, fear can also come from the unknown. And sharing these photographs and stories can ward off fear. In our society, it takes a lot of courage to show your breast and even more to reveal your scars, whether visible or invisible.
6. HOW DID YOU SELECT THE 12 WOMEN WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE #NOLESSAWOMAN PROJECT?
Hello Beautiful and I had a call to witness on social networks and platforms related to breast cancer. Women who were interested offered to participate. It is humbling to see how many women are willing to trust and participate. We have tried to include women of all ages and from all walks of life so that as many women as possible can identify with their photos and stories.
7. WHAT DOES THIS COLLABORATION MEAN TO YOU?
When do we have the opportunity to see photographs that portray the bare reality of breast cancer, while being gentle and compassionate? I am particularly proud of this collaboration. I have tried to have a tender, honest and encouraging look at the lives and bodies of women with breast cancer. Honestly, I think it's a path full of beauty and courage for a fashion brand, which will probably surprise the public. I thank Stella from the bottom of my heart for doing this work at my side.