It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Refinery29 is doing its part by bringing the world un-retouched examples of real women's breasts. Because while society may have a complicated relationship with the female anatomy — as evidenced by debates about everything from birth control to breastfeeding — the most important relationship is the one a woman has with her own body. What everyone else thinks is (or at least ought to be) irrelevant.
Which is why, in the age of Photoshop and impossible beauty standards, it's great to see honest pictures of women and read their thoughts about their bodies. And Refinery29's series, which features 25 photos of real women's breasts, definitely fits the bill. But this isn't just about the images, though seeing unfiltered pictures of women of all ages and sizes is both refreshing and inspiring. It's about the stories that go with them. Each photo is accompanied by a brief passage as the woman photographed talks about how she feels about her breasts. And as one might expect, every story — and every relationship — is different.
Some of the women have big boobs, some don't. Some wear bras, some don't. Some have had breast augmentation surgery, some haven't. Some have had mastectomies after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Some have lost loved ones to breast cancer. Each woman has her own feelings about her breasts, and reading them is touching and illuminating.
We live in a world that makes a big deal about women's breasts, meaning people are bound to have some complicated feelings about them. Somehow, our culture has managed to take a perfectly normal body part intended to provide nourishment for newborns, and make it hyper-sexualized and taboo, all at the same time... which is why it's so great to have a photo series like this. Much like Refinery29's series of un-retouched butt pictures from earlier this year, these photos give us a healthy dose of reality. If nothing else, it's always nice to remind ourselves that we're not alone in figuring out how we feel about our particular size and shape of boobs.
So this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, give your own boobs a little TLC — and check out these honest examples of photos of real breasts and real women talking about them.
Check out the full series at Refinery29.
Images: Courtesy of Refinery29; Photographed by Joanna McClure