More Than Breasts

by Kristine Lasam


It’s 5.42 a.m., 4th of October 2016 and I am consumed by the fire in my belly. I have just looked at the numerous email threads from the team about our campaign for breast cancer awareness this month and I nervously take a sip of my now cold coffee—I’ve downed most of it the first hour since I woke up, but I needed the normalcy or the mundane of drinking coffee as I try to structure my thoughts about what I’m going to write shortly. I’m nervous because this piece means a lot to the team and me. I’m excited because this one is a different piece than what I’ve so far churned out for our blog. It invites me to look at my own experience as a woman in today’s world. This piece will not only talk about raising awareness about breast cancer—it will talk about raising awareness about the plight of women from all parts of the world. Their trials, tribulations and triumph.

This piece aims to champion women, as a whole, as a supreme feminine.

Before that discourse though, I want to acknowledge that social media has made the world one big grid. We no longer operate from a place of search. We don’t look for things so much anymore—we discover things. Many things. About a couple of months ago—just last summer, there was so much controversy about Burkinis. Or the Burkini ban on the French beaches of Nice, [1] Cannes[2] and Corsica.[3] 

The Internet (bless it or curse it) exploded with memes of the French police giving fines to the women on the beach for wearing Burkinis[4]—ordering them to either leave or change to the more normally accepted bathing suits. A bikini or a one-piece, or to some extent and places, just a bikini bottom. Come #TBTs and we are thrown back to the time many decades ago when women were fined and thrown out of the beach, arrested and jailed for wearing something skimpier than what law would allow. The swimsuit police was having none of these indecent behaviors[5]. Opinions about it flourished. Debates ensued and I look at the lot of women engaged in so many fiery conversations in forums in all the available platforms that provided a venue for it and you wonder—when does it ever stop? Where is the depth, what is the true debate? Is there merit in these inquiries? What is the conclusion? What did it help? Was it for the greater good, and who decides the multitude that belongs to the greater good?

Look to Instagram today—and if not for one Annette Kellermann, the Australian swimmer who took to the sea wearing a one-piece suit that bared her full legs; who got arrested by the police and jailed by the Boston Court in 1907 for indecency[6]—and the movement she spurred about the modern-day bathing suit, we would be in a different space. Would Instagram then be showcasing women in Burkinis instead of the women in skimpy bathing suits today? The dichotomy about this is enough to leave you crazy. In the end, women are at the center of this. Legs or no legs? Breasts or no breasts?

Do a different bit of research, and look for #breastfeeding issues. It still trends to this very day (and beyond, I suppose). Innumerable content are floating in that grid somewhere (and forever). Some are appalled by the way women nurse their kids in public. I’m a mother of two—and I have nursed my two boys in many dirty and stinky public comfort rooms (where there is no comfort at all) because I was shamed for nursing them at a restaurant while the rest of my family eat on a table. I have nursed each of my sons for over a year so many times under a place of stress, and a feeling of oppression—instead of a nurturing environment because society drew lines for me, for us. My act of nursing, feeding my baby—my natural, given right to nurture my child were and still are deemed shameful by some pockets of our society.   We are living in a place where there are just so much of those blurred lines. There’s something about a woman’s breasts that still fires up hot debate at the drop of a hat.   Like this is the very thing that makes up the absolute fabric of who we are. Nothing more.

It is no wonder that women who suffer breast cancer, who not only deal with the viciousness of chemo—the ravaging effects of treatment, losing your hair, losing weight and the everyday fear of not making it out of this episode alive, also have to deal, post-healing; and sometimes after such a painful surgery—mastectomy, with the feeling that they are not a woman anymore, because they have lost a breast; or worse their two.

What have we as a society created? What have we fed, bred and embedded in the minds of women and men, young and old—all over the world about women and our breasts?

When have we lost sight of the big picture? That we are more than just breasts? That we as mothers have nurtured and cared for our sons—and husbands, and parents, and so many other people—our own family, the families we have chosen. Beyond family. That we are your sisters, daughters, or grand daughters and more. That we as individuals have created so much good in the world, using our mental faculties—our will and our spirit.

Amelia[7] have flown the world by herself at a time when it was simply unthinkable. Junko[8] have scaled and conquered the Mt. Everest summit. Yusra[9] was not only an Olympian but also a hero for seeing to and saving 19 lives on a boat with her. Sunitha[10] has risen from such a vicious episode of assault at a tender age of 15 and now rescues women and girls so they can pursue a life, with as much dignity, right and privilege as any human being on earth.

This is our small narrative—as a collective team at Pink Entropy. I have been tasked by my team to write the words, but this idea; this campaign came as a result of our desire to embrace and share the power of pink. To look at the issues that plague us as a society—and to a large extent render many women in the light they shouldn’t be cast in.

This is a celebration of all the women that inspired us. To the women who fuelled our ambition and desire to make a difference—to show up everyday, in whatever suit, or armor, or form and do our best.

This is a series about women who have gone against the norm, challenged the status quo, and did things that were never done before. Simply because they can—because they willed it and largely because they are true champions. Championing the values they live for. Honoring all that makes them, us as a woman—being a woman. More than just breasts. Rising above anything, and definitely above our mortal fears, above breast cancer.