Can Modesty Still Exist in a World With MBC?
I’m going to say something that will spark an opinion almost as soon as I say it, but please - I ask you to hear me out before coming to an opinion - modesty, during your time with breast cancer, is okay.
My scars are mine
Now notice what I said and what I didn’t say, I didn’t say you have to cover up, not show your scars or post-surgical pictures. For some people that can become empowering, but for me as a more conservative-leaning person, it just felt like a world I’ve felt pressure at the time to be a part of, that I’m just not comfortable with.
My journey with modesty
My journey with modesty really began for me in high school. I modeled and participated in pageants with swimsuit competitions and was also involved in a youth group at my church. As I grew older - both worlds had an influence on my decisions of where I landed in the modesty spectrum. I was never the type of girl who felt I had to wear a tee-shirt over my swimsuit as to not lead the boys astray, but I was also aware as a busty teenager that my looks at times drew attention I was uncomfortable with. By the time I had reached my Junior year in college, I actually had a breast reduction due to back pain for my then 38J breasts. It was hard to find clothes that fit and the disks in my back were degenerating. Every day going to class at my conservative university was a struggle with the dress code; how much cleavage was okay?
The level of insecurity I felt about my own body led me down a dark path of eating disorders and body shaming - my body was about everyone else’s opinions of it - it wasn’t about me and feeling comfortable. It was either too sexy, not sexy enough - well enough was the perfect word. I had, had enough.
Modesty after metastatic breast cancer
When I found myself diagnosed with breast cancer I found myself thrown into the modesty spectrum again, especially when I entered the world of Facebook Groups and then into advocacy. So many showing their scars or their post-surgical photoshoots topless, in pictorials or fashion shows; while at the same time calling for the desexualization of the disease - where was the line between empowering and over-sexualized? I was confused about where it existed. Did it depend on the person or the photo? For me it became a world that I knew I would have to take a position on, but the more and more I leaned to modesty - the more I felt alone. Modesty isn’t really an opinion you see much of in these groups or even advocacy space.
While for some, showing off their bodies can become empowering or even inspiring; for me - it’s been the opposite. Now, that’s not to say I don’t like to occasionally dress a little sexier - but for the most part, modesty has been something I have chosen for myself. It doesn’t make me weak, or insecure or even a prude; it simply means that I chose to honor my body in a way that I feel doesn’t open myself up to exploitation or comments - especially on the surgical scars that are the constant reminders of one of the hardest times in my life.
My body and decisions are my own
I don’t feel like in need to be deified in drapes to show my body to bring attention to my cause. I don’t need to open myself up to comments that may make me feel insecure or even ashamed of my body. Modesty when done right and with pure intentions isn’t about body shaming or just covering up, it’s about being comfortable in your skin and the clothes you wear to build confidence, and knowing my journey with breast cancer is just as valid as those who choose to wear their scars for everyone to see.
You have a choice; decide what is best for you and your experience with stage 4 breast cancer
That said, if you choose to go topless to share your story or if that is what empowers you or helps you find peace through all of this, go for it - this blog is not meant to shame you. However, for those like me who choose to keep your bodies and scars for yourselves or just a few (obviously our medical professionals and for some our spouses), it’s okay. We don’t have to be pressured to show the skin we are in - but we do need to learn to love ourselves regardless.
Caregivers: Do you practice self-care?