My breasts are simply part of my body, not the most important thing about me. Yet what they mean to me, and my experiences of them, provide insights into some of the most personal aspects of being a woman. For two years, I photographed and interviewed women about their breasts, bodies and lives. I can’t wait to share their stories and photographs with you; they are courageous, moving, funny, intimate and revelatory. Bare Reality concludes with a book and exhibition.
More than simply part of our bodies, breasts represent sexuality, motherhood and femininity. Their primary purpose is to feed our babies. At the same time, in Western culture they are considered a woman’s single most significant sexual attribute. They can be erogenous zones. Yet to others they bring disappointment, inconvenience, and even health problems. We see images of breasts everywhere in the media and yet ‘real’ breasts are taboo, hidden away. Bare Reality explores the dichotomy between how women feel about their breasts privately and how they are presented for public consumption through the media.
There has been so much public debate about breasts recently, from Free the Nipple to No More Page 3, from breastfeeding photographs on Facebook to celebrities on the red carpet, from Femen to the women of the Niger Delta. I think the time has never been better to hear how women really feel about their breasts, and to see how they really look.
Women aged from 19 to 101 have taken part in Bare Reality, women with healthy breasts, cancer survivors, different ethnicities, women from all walks of life, all shapes and sizes, heterosexual, lesbian, bisexual, asexual and trans women. Their perspectives and experiences are diverse: Buddhist nun, burlesque dancer, career women and stay at home mums, a female vicar, nurses, strippers, social workers, full/long term breastfeeders, cancer survivors, a club night promoter whose pseudonym is ‘Captain Hello Titties’, and so many more.
The women in this book bare all and they are made subject, not object. For the first time, 100 women share pictures of their breasts, along with stories about growing up, sexual experience, breastfeeding, health problems, insecurities, surgery, ageing and more. The reality of breasts is revealed with honesty and truth. More than that, breasts are a catalyst for an intimate exploration of what it means to be a woman.
This is how we look. This is how we feel.