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The Scar Project

Posted 12/1/2016

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  I was aware of this project but am grateful to Susan Gubar's essay for reminding me about it. No one gets through cancer without scars--some are larger and more visible than others, but we all have them. The Scar Project ( is an astonishing collection of beautiful photographs of young women who have had mastectomies. Its' subtitle, "Breast Cancer is Not a Pink Ribbon" makes me like it even more.

  In her essay, Ms Gubar talks about this work more eloquently than I can. Do read it and absolutely do look at the photographs.

Living With Cancer: The Scar Project



In the documentary “Baring it All,” a young woman declares, “The scar represents everything

I’ve been through. I’m proud of what I’ve been through.” The film focuses on the fashion

photographer David Jay, who created a pictorial series about breast cancer called “The Scar


The photos from “The Scar Project” strike me as raw and beautiful. Not beautiful like the

post-mastectomy pose of the artist Matuschka, whose “Beauty Out of Damage” photo

became iconic after appearing on the cover of The New York Times Magazine in 1993. By

comparison, David Jay’s portraits contain images of women whose bared breasts look

crumpled, concave, synthetic, reconstructed without or with reconfigured nipples, stitched

horizontally or vertically or at an acute angle, lumpy, lopsided, wounded, or hacked off.

Bravery resides there, beauty elsewhere, in these shots of topless women in their 20s and 30s

— in a wary smile, a cocked hat and suspenders, the branching veins of an inner arm, a

mystic tattoo on a lower back, resolute hands on hips, smudged make-up smeared by a tear,

an abundantly pregnant belly. Often beauty radiates from the eyes of the subject whose

proud gaze conveys a steadfast determination to confront a grotesque turn of events with



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