Over the last two years, Laura Dodsworth, photographer, feminist and, above all, woman, has spent countless unpaid hours embarking on an ambitious, unprecedented self-publishing project.
Travelling the length and breadth of the UK, she has interviewed 100 women between the ages of 19 and 101 on the subject of their breasts, and taken accompanying topless photographs of them for posterity. Her aim is to raise enough funds to publish a limited edition of her book, Bare Reality – One Hundred Women And Their Breasts, raising awareness and donations towards Breast Cancer UK in the process.
Dodsworth is an award-winning professional photographer who specialises in weddings and portraits. Her inspiration for Bare Reality arose from a growing discontent with how breasts are represented in the media and the resulting dichotomy between perceived perfection and the reality of her own figure. She noted that photographs of breasts are invariably published either to incite lust or to provoke ridicule, and that even models with enviable figures would be mercilessly Photoshopped in the search for physical desirability. Her concern was how those depictions and ideals play forward into people’s perceptions of what is beautiful, what is not, and what is acceptable.
During her journey, Dodsworth encountered women with cup sizes ranging from AAA to K. Their background was diverse to say the least – alongside career women and fulltime mums, the photographer’s subjects included a Buddhist nun, a female vicar, a burlesque dancer, nurses, strippers, social workers, long term breast feeders and many more.
Ten of the 100 women photographed and interviewed by Dodsworth had been affected by breast cancer in some way, whether they were currently fighting the disease or proud survivors with the battle scars to show for it. The author was profoundly moved by her meeting with these women: “I valued their participation so much,” she says in an interview published on the Breast Cancer UK website. “Baring their breasts meant sharing their scars, literally and figuratively. Sometimes they cried, sometimes I cried. Although there was sadness there was also healing. I believe that by sharing our stories we can heal ourselves as well as the ones reading or hearing our stories.”
Dodsworth attests that her interviews with those afflicted by breast cancer were also notable for their bravery and inspirational positivity. For every copy of Bare Reality sold, she will donate £1.00 to Breast Cancer UK with the aim of raising awareness and increasing funds for investigating breast cancer prevention.
Here at Let’s Talk Breasts we think Laura Dodsworth’s a bit of a superwoman, and we wholeheartedly support her quest to show women and men of all ages what breasts really look like. If you agree, then please visit her Kickstarter page and pledge funds of £1 or more to help get this project off the ground.
Photo credit: Laura Dodsworth/Bare Reality
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