In the lush-but-intimate garden gallery of Eric Buterbaugh in Los Angeles, a crowd fell into an important conversation on October 19. Between the flower arrangements and the series of photographs propped up on black easels, there was one central theme: beauty. In one black-and-white photograph, a woman, clad in a floral kimono, bares her chest, revealing her mastectomy scars. She’s sitting, shoulders back, her gaze drawn away from the camera in a moment of raw vulnerability. But there’s something else, an air of confidence. In fact, every portrait carried a certain metaphoric heft, all loud-and-proud examples of remarkable fortitude, all elegantly defying conventional notions of beauty.
The photographs were shot in collaboration with The Foundation for Living Beauty by renowned photographer Tasya Van Ree. It paid homage to Breast Cancer Awareness month, a time of year dedicated to educating women on the importance of screening and early detection, as well as garnering funds for supporting various cancer research institutions. The event was also a fresh impetus to the cause because it aimed to empower by unfurling the reality of the battle—by highlighting women who are every bit as real as the hardships they’ve endured.
Eight of the survivors showed up to the event, along with the foundation’s founder Amie Satchu, and hosts Alle Fister, May Lindstrom, Christos Garkinos, Susan Feldman and Giovanni Saint Pierre. While milling around, guests sipped on concoctions and nibbled on noshes whipped up by sushi hotspot Katsuya. While inspiring and well thought out, the event was only a sampling of the organization’s efforts in imbuing hope and emotional comfort to those coping with chemotherapy and its aftereffects. Throughout the year, the foundation offers women support in the form of wellness retreats, educational workshops and sisterhood support events. What’s more, the works displayed were up for sale for $5,000, benefiting the foundation to further their goals and proving to women that life with cancer can still brim with joy.
Photo Credit: Getty Images