Breast Cancer Model Upsets Genuine Cancer Survivors

Models Direct have read disappointed reactions from awareness campaigners and survivors of breast cancer, who have expressed the belief that a genuine sufferer should have featured in the latest poster campiagn – as apposed to the model who was opted for instead.

Breast Cancer Care poster featuring a model causes controversy
Breast Cancer Care poster featuring a model causes controversy

A new Breast Cancer Care poster campaign has caused controversy this week.
Bloggers at modelling agency Models Direct have read that there has been disappointed reactions from awareness campaigners and survivors of the illness – who believe a genuine sufferer should have featured in the image as apposed to the model who was opted for instead.

Despite the obvious best intentions of those working on the new campaign, many are said to have reacted with disappointment at the use of the model, whose body was digitally manipulated to appear like that of a woman who has undergone treatment for the disease. She appears with one breast – with the area that would have shown mastectomy scars covered by a number of carefully placed capsules and tablets. Baldness has also been simulated with the use of a rubber cap and some clever photoshop techniques.

While initial reactions were positive it seems that the image caused offence once it became clear that the woman featured was not a survivor of cancer. Caroline Monk who expressed her upset in an article for the Daily Mail: “As a campaigner, I am in touch with a large network of women who, like me, survived breast cancer or are going through treatment. I have spoken to more than 100 women who are disappointed that a real sufferer had not been used. Many of them said they would have been happy to pose.

“Why is it so important? Well, we need powerful, strong and positive role models to inspire other women not to be afraid of the disease and its aftermath. I could have done with one when diagnosed in 2004.”

Caroline was a columnist for Closer when she went through treatment for cancer, aged 34. She wrote about her experience in the magazine – sharing an honest photograph of herself as part of her effort to help others – and received hundreds of letters from women thanking her for her openness.

“I was proud to show myself in an effort to help others” she said. “But not everyone was understanding. I made the front pages of papers after being attacked in the street by teenagers calling me ‘slaphead’. They only left me alone when I screamed: ‘I have cancer!’

“And I remember going out to a bar with friends after losing my hair and hearing comments such as: ‘Look at the state of that.’ It hurt, but still I didn’t want to hide away – I hadn’t done anything wrong.

“We can wear wigs while having chemo, and you can even have your nipples tattooed back on. But once you have had breast cancer you will never look the same as before. Coming to terms with this is one of the hardest parts of recovery. The day I found my hair on the pillow, I looked in the mirror and realised ‘I’m ill’. That’s why these images are so important: they show we can survive.”

Caroline believes that the recent image used by Breast Cancer Care is “demeaning and patronising” and says it suggests that women who have had breast cancer are not “good-looking or strong enough to be in the campaign”.

Clinical Director at Breast Cancer Care, Dr Emma Pennery, explained: “After careful consideration we took the decision to use a model who had not experienced the disease. To achieve authenticity, the campaign would have required someone undergoing chemotherapy.

“Side effects include nausea, vomiting and extreme fatigue and we have a duty of care to people undergoing treatment. Neither did we think it appropriate to ask someone after treatment to artificially recreate this difficult time of their lives.”

If you have been affected by breast cancer and feel that the use of a model in this campaign was insensitive we would be interested to hear your opinion.