ReDefining Beauty with The Beautiful Real – Cancer Diagnosis – Abbotsford Photographer
How do you define beauty?
Now imagine you are stripped of your previous perceptions and notions of beauty…
How Do you redefine beauty?
I met Dana a couple of years ago at a women’s networking event, she caught my attention the moment she walked into the room. She had a head full of the most gorgeous red curls I have ever seen and she carried herself with such grace and confidence. Now, I talk a lot! Honestly, if you have ever met me in person, you know I can ramble on and on and on 😉 But when Dana spoke, I shut the fuck up and listened! We became friends on Facebook and that is how I came to find out about her cancer diagnosis.
I knew I wanted to do something for this amazing woman, so I reached out to her to discuss doing a photo session, and what that would mean for her. The results of our collaboration are beyond anything I have created to date. Not only did we create beautiful, sensual, emotive images but we also created a beautiful video to tell her story.
Enough of my banter though, I’ll let her continue the story from here.
**This post contains images of tasteful nudity
Dana’s journey to (re)Define Beauty…
We learn very early what beauty is supposed look like and society has done a great job of making sure that there is little room for interpretation. Whether we realize it or not, as women we all measure ourselves up against something that we deem as being “more beautiful” than us–add an advanced cancer diagnosis and some women feel the need to become invisible because we are seen as damaged goods or less than by many people–mostly other women.
We [women] suffer from an epidemic of smallness. We spend years shrinking ourselves for fear that our wildness or haughtiness will be shamed. We will continue to starve in silence until we can create new stories with the power of naming our true selves.
I was told by someone recently that I was dangerous. I asked why, and their response was, “because you don’t depend on anyone for approval and you don’t care what anyone thinks–you just do you, cancer and all.”
We [women] need to come to an understanding of what it means to be beautiful. Sexy photos aren’t about gratuitous nudity, it’s about feeding the soul– a new sense of identity. There is a complete stripping down that happens when cancer comes knocking asking the question: Who am I when I’m stripped down? When I lost most of my gorgeous hair, and acquired abdominal scars from surgery, I was devastated but it didn’t mean I needed hide, it meant I needed to redefine what beauty meant to me. Beauty is more than in the way you look, it’s how you hold yourself, the way you love yourself–and how you love others.
When cancer showed up in my life, it was self acceptance that saved me when all hell was breaking loose and my world turned upside down. I had to learn to love myself differently. The names others gave me didn’t hold me down–cancer will never steal my scream because every moment used to criticize ourselves, is a tragic loss. Beauty and sexy comes from the soul, and as far as I’m concerned, a beautiful soul is what you’ve got to worry about when you die.
Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your life and dreams every minute.
Photography and Video by: Artist Jessica Rae
Narrative and Muse: Dana O’Dell – The Beautiful Real