[Author’s Note: This blog started out as a quick shout-out to the folks behind Monokini, a line of single-breasted swimsuits, but has since morphed into a rant about topless equality, gender identity and body image. Just watch my feet for a minute, I promise there’s a point to all this.]
Monokini is a social art project that designs swimwear collections for single mastectomy survivors who have elected to forego breast augmentation surgery. It’s also the thing that currently restores my faith in humanity.
I love this for two reasons. I have several friends who are breast cancer survivors, some have had mastectomies, some haven’t. Of those who have, some have elected to get breast implants, some haven’t. I think it’s pretty awesome that this project highlights the fact that there is a choice and it’s really the decision of the survivor (and, I suppose, her doctor, I know nothing about the medical ramifications of these things).
The second, somewhat stranger, reason is that mastectomy survivors who forego implants call attention to how ridiculous it is that in so many parts of the country, it’s illegal for women to be topless in public. It begs the question, what part of the female breast is so offensive? The nipple? Men have nipples, but we can be topless in public. Is it the amount breast tissue? What about flat chested women and amply breasted men? And, if that were the case, why is it legal for women to be basically topless if their nipples are covered? It makes no sense. I think what the powers-that-be find offensive about the female breast is that they are attached to women.
To see how silly this can get, contrast the cases of Jodi Jaecks and Andrea Jones. In 2012 Jodi Jaecks was temporarily banned from swimming topless in a public pool in Seattle, despite having had a double mastectomy and electing not to get breast implants.
In 2011, Andrea Jones, a transgender woman living in Tennessee, was arrested for indecent exposure after walking out of the Department of Motor Vehicles topless. She was protesting the fact that the DMV refused to change the gender on her driver’s license from male to female. Her argument being that the state couldn’t treat her as both a man and a woman, and if she was legally male, she should be able to walk outside without a shirt on.
Two women, one with neither breasts nor nipples, the other born biologically male and still treated as such by her state, both sanctioned for doing what cisgender men do all the time: being topless in public. It makes no sense to me.
On a brighter note, photo below comes from bodybuilder turned body image activist, Taryn Brumfitt at bodyimagemovement.com.au. It’s part of a blog titled “The best reason to get naked in front of a thousand people!” and it tells the story of two total strangers, both mastectomy survivors, who met and bonded at the world’s largest naked swimming event.
Taryn is also running a Kickstarter campaign to fund a body positive documentary called “Embrace” and you should definitely support it by going here.