Meet 32-year-old Aniela McGuinness, an actress from Hollywood, Florida. Of course, she is much more than an ordinary actress. She’s a fighter, in a word.In 2014, McGuinnes was planning a preventative bilateral mastectomy, since she got positive BRCA1, a genetic mutation closely linked to breast cancer.This is likely to be a disaster for any woman, but not McGuinness.
Instead of being drown in sadness, she had something more important to do.”Before removing my breasts I wanted photographic evidence of what they looked like, but I didn’t want mug shots of attempted murders.”
As a result, she creatively originated a four-photo series titled “My Breast Choice”, which documents every stage of her mastectomy.”Mainly, I needed something to focus on while I went through this, a place to release my creativity and feel useful. My Breast Choice gave me that.”
“Have you ever googled mastectomy before and after photos? It’s a heartbreaking array of faceless women’s maimed breasts under florescent lighting.”She wrote on her YouTube page, disappointed by the common percptions.”It’s usually soft lifting, flowing fabric, and maybe a rose placed near the breast. I was just kind of sick of that.” And it was this result that determined her mind to shake people up.
In order to change people’s perspective on mastectomies, she created four humorous but powerful images to express different emotion throughout the whole process.”No more before and after photos. I wanted them to see the evolution, the life, and the HUMOR in this dark situation.”
The first image prior to the operation is her as the iconic Rosie the Riveter.She was totally comfortable with taking her shirt off, just because she wanted to.
Then comes the Bride of Frankenstein after, which was shot after the operation.She chose it partly for the coming Halloween.
The third one was at the end of her chemotherapy, with expanders filled her breast and without hair.”This was my playful ‘hey look, I’m bald!” Through a impressive Mannequin shoot, she poured out her plastic feeling while having her expanders in, with strange rigid makeup and expression.”I wanted a photo that captured how I felt.” And obviously it works.
The final image in this series was taken two months after her reconstructive surgery. Well, she knew excatly what she want. “I decided not to get my nipples reconstructed or tattooed because I enjoy the jokes and freedom I get from not having them.”said McGuinness.
She got back to her feet step by step, and finally felt all her energy again.Apparently, McGuinness has been making fun with her experience, and every post was full of her self-mockery and optimism. Indeed, she is so hilarious but also inspiring that those lovely silly gems reflects a woman’s greatest bravery and strength.
“I had these stick-on nipples and we kept trying them in different spots to see how they’d look with different poses,” said McGuinness. “We quickly shot this and I was done. It was the easiest, fastest shot.”
According to McGuinness, her ongoing project explores “the impact breast cancer, a double mastectomy, and chemo can have on a woman’s body and soul and uses humor and honesty to go beyond just surviving”. She said, “I wanted to show something different. I wanted to make an art piece with joy behind it. There’s color in this. There’s joy in this. You can laugh at it. We don’t have to be uncomfortable by it.”
Her art wasn’t simply for humor or jokes, instead they are the best reminder for a woman’s belief in her beauty and bravery towards life.Besides, her special works also arise people’s awareness of breast cancer too.