If I saw Beth Whaanga at a cocktail party I would think, “Wow, there’s a pretty mom who’s got it all.”
Of course, appearances can be deceiving.
Whaanga is, in fact a pretty mom who’s got a lot (maybe “all”, depending on your definition), but who also has valiantly battled several kinds of cancer.
When she chose to reveal her scars in a nude photo shoot on Facebook, it ignited a predictable firestorm of controversy. People are notoriously uncomfortable with nudity, especially if it isn’t gratuitous or reflective of cultural beauty norms.
Whaanga, with the help of photographer Nadia Mascot, took part in the project “Under the Red Dress”, which was designed to bring awareness to breast cancer through photographs of women who have experienced it. After her photo session, she posted her pictures on Facebook.
She was promptly reported and de-friended by over 100 “friends”.
I struggle to imagine seeing these images and having a hostile reaction. Fortunately, Facebook took up Whaanga’s cause and assured her her posts will remain in place despite anyone’s discomfort, and Whaanga herself has maintained her equanimity saying that it’s okay if some people are offended as long as she gets just one individual to self check for cancer.
Well, she just got one.
Among the numerous effects of her illness which Whaanga has revealed are: hair loss, total bilateral mastectomy scars, tram flap for breast reconstruction, Bellovac drain scars, naval reconstruction, bilateral tram flap for reconstruction, sagging skin from rapid weight loss and a total hysterectomy scars.
No, hers is not the kind of body we see in Yoga Journal or in any major magazine—it is not the body of a “beautiful person”—but she is beautiful.
This is a woman whose physical being became a battleground, who entered the battle and won, and these scars and her character are the spoils. She is no longer a simple woman—she is a Warrior Goddess.
It is women like Beth Whaanga who inspire me and shine a light on the path for all women who are aging, fighting, living passionately and refusing to be silenced or shunned.
To see the full the story, click here.
Bonus: Detoxing our Bodies to Prevent Cancer.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise