"Breasts, no breasts, scars, imperfections ... I am a woman. I am a person. I am me," breast cancer survivor Kristina Hunter said in a statement to Mic.
In an effort to showcase the beauty of breast cancer survivors, especially those living with scars, Hunter partnered with artist and photographer ML Kenneth on a project called "Woman: Redefined." The collection features powerful photos of 33 women and their scars after surgery.
According to the project's Kickstarter page, the photos will be printed in a book to be distributed to Breast Health Centers across North America for free and available for purchase online.
"The scars on our bodies bear witness to our journey, and so we must love them deeply," Hunter and Kenneth said in the project statement.
Hunter, a University of Manitoba senior instructor, was diagnosed with the disease in 2013 at the age of 42. She told the Huffington Post that after her surgery, "My husband and I were disheartened to see only very clinical images of women before and after their surgeries. Moreover, these photos were kept in a binder, in a drawer, in an office. Why the secrecy? ... Should we not embrace our new bodies? Doesn't the unfamiliar become the norm by seeing it?" This secrecy, she believes, has contributed to the stigma of having scars.
But Hunter refuses to be ashamed of her body. She told Global News, "I love my scars. They are my journey written on my skin."
Breast cancer affects more women than any other cancer, and about 1 in 8 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. This project, Kenneth noted in a statement to Mic, imparts a message of strength and solidarity to women touched by the disease.
"We need to see ourselves outside the confines of societal roles, beyond the reflection in the mirror, and focus internally on our true feminine self," she said. "The wild, vulnerable, multi-faceted being who is woman: redefined."
h/t Huffington Post