In 2010, more than 10,000 women under the age of 40 will be diagnosed with breast cancer. David Jay created The Scar Project as a means to raise awareness about the alarming incidents of breast cancer in women under the age of 40. “The mission is three-fold: Raise public consciousness of early-onset breast cancer, raise funds for breast cancer research/outreach programs and help young survivors see their scars, faces, figures and experiences through a new, honest and ultimately empowering lens.”
David was so moved after his 32 year old friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. “The SCAR Project puts a raw, unflinching face on early onset breast cancer while paying tribute to the courage and spirit of so many brave young women.” The International Premier Exhibit of The SCAR Project: Surviving Cancer- Absolute Reality, opens October 14th and runs through to 17th.
ThisThatBeauty: What prepares you for the emotion that you see in the breast cancer survivors that you photograph?
David Jay: There’s no way to prepare myself for such beautiful, raw emotion. The best I can do as a photographer (and as a man) is to try and create an environment where that emotion can be safely expressed . . . . and be prepared to capture it on film when it is.
ThisThatBeauty: Has the experience with The Scar Project changed the way you relate to women?
David Jay: It has only further validated my respect for them. Strong and courageous with love and humility. I am very glad to be a man . . . . but they really are a superior gender!
ThisThatBeauty: Having done The Scar Project, has your definition of beauty changed?
David Jay: Not so much my definition of beauty, but hopefully my ability to capture it.
ThisThatBeauty: If you could change one thing about how society and the fashion industry defines beauty, what would that be and why?
David Jay: I’m not sure the definition of beauty needs to be changed. More important is an individual’s reaction to beauty. One needs to understand that the images they see in the magazines are not meant to be a mirror to judge themselves against; not meant to be taken literally. They are meant to be enjoyed. To be feasted upon. To stimulate and seduce. They are fantasy presented as truth. Rarely completely honest. Like a Hollywood movie and created in much the same way; the finished product appearing seamless, effortless, real.
ThisThatBeauty: What is the hardest part about taking on something as serious and as life altering as breast cancer?
David Jay: I struggled shooting The SCAR Project. I was torn. Neither art project nor beauty pageant The SCAR Project is a powerful, beautifully disturbing look into the souls of women confronting a devastating disease. I wanted the pictures to be raw, honest, sincere. Yet I knew why the subjects had come to me; they wanted something beautiful. They had already suffered greatly. And though I desperately wanted to serve them, I knew in my heart that compromising the visual integrity of The SCAR Project for the sake of easily digested beauty would serve no one. Certainly not the people I hoped to be impacted by the images: the public at large who remain blissfully unaware of the risk or reality, anesthetized by pink ribbons and fluffy teddy bears.
ThisThatBeauty: You’ve taken dozens of images of breast cancer survivors, of all these images, which has impacted you the most and why?
David Jay: I was shooting Sara. Things were going nicely, smoothly. Laughter. The pictures looked good. Honest. I was pleased with the images we had captured. I loaded the pictures into the computer and called Sara over to look. Silence. Silence. Tears. Mine too. I grabbed the camera again. That’s the picture you see here.
ThisThatBeauty: Thank you David Jay…for this interview and The SCAR Project.
The International Premier Exhibit
THE SCAR PROJECT
Surviving Cancer- Absolute Reality
Open House Gallery 201 Mulberry St.
Photography by David Jay
Information and ticket sales www.thescarproject.org
This post is written by ThisThatBeauty Contributor, Christene Carr. For more: @ChristeneCarr on Twitter and www.christenecarr.com