Naming can be hard. Typically when I blog/vlog, I change the names to protect the innocent (and the potentially litigious). However, on rare occasions, I keep the real name of the person I’m depicting. Fiona, for instance, is really the name of a little girl I babysit for. I did not change her name, because as I’ve written about her, I’ve never found a name as perfectly suited to her as the one her parent’s gave her.
I kept Laura’s name in this vlog, because I want EVERYONE to use Laura Pennace as a photographer for their future events.
She is so very good, and helped me fulfill this crazy idea. I’m still not sure what drew me to the idea to take these pictures. I’d heard that women did it, but I wasn’t sure why, and I wasn’t sure it was for me…. It sounded kind of silly, and I wasn’t sure what it would accomplish. But in a time that was so dark, I wanted to do something nice, and I’m so glad I did.
That day was absolutely the loveliest day I had between my diagnosis in October, and my surgery in April. I brought along my friend Aubrey (also her real name) and the three of us had an amazing time—laughing and being silly and scandalous and celebrating the life I had that day. I knew everything physical was going to change in the coming months, I knew I would lose my hair… my breasts… But amazingly, while we were shooting it, I never thought about all that. Thanks to Laura, I really stayed in the moment, and just enjoyed what I had that day.
I felt empowered. I felt if I could take off my top in front of a subway
station in Brooklyn, I could take on anything that was ahead of me. I look back at those pictures and I see the person I was then, and am inspired to find that person, that body, that hair, that love of life again.
It reminds me of the thing Jeanine Tesori said at the Tonys, “For girls, you have to see it to be it.” Thanks to Laura, I can see it, not just in my mind’s eye; but right in front of me. I can actually see the way I felt—I can name it, and I can own it.