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Black and white photo of Emi with long hair

I used to feel ashamed of my body – now I’m proud of it

Before cancer, Emi struggled with her body image. She explains why her relationship with her body is now better than ever, and shares tips for women struggling with their body image after treatment.

I subscribed to the ‘female code’ of body shame 

I was diagnosed with primary breast cancer in 2013. I was 33 years old. My treatment included four operations, and seven rounds of chemotherapy.

Before breast cancer, my relationship with my body was what I'd call typical of a 33-year-old. I’d subscribed to the ‘female code’ of body shame – I’d look for ways to improve or fix my body, and publicly put myself down.

Emi in a hospital bed

After my diagnosis, I realised I’d been an idiot for thinking about my body in this way! Breast cancer made me realise that I needed my body, and that it was important to work on having a better relationship with it. As I recovered, I had to work with, not against, my body.

I posed for photos to capture my recovery

I started to become fascinated by the changes that were happening to my body. So I asked a photographer, Jaine Briscoe Price, to embark on a project with me to capture its recovery.

Emi outside with short hair, wearing a gold skirt and gold shells over her breasts

It was an impulsive decision to reach out to Jaine – I had no idea that I was starting a ‘love affair’ with my body. Seeing my body in the photographs reminded me of its strength and beauty. It's resilience.

Emi outside sitting in long grass holding a board that says "resilient"

Jaine, who is now a good friend, would ask me to sum up each of the nine photography shoots we did in one word. When I did this, it would help me focus on what I was feeling in my body as it recovered. To connect with it.

Emi outside jumping with her arms extended, wearing a flowy purple skirt

Focus on what your body can do 

If you’re struggling with your body confidence after treatment, it can help to focus on what your body can do and is constantly doing.

Emi at the beach with wet hair, wearing a blue jacket and rainbow stickers covering her breasts

I try to think about the millions of cells in my body just coolly striving to achieve health. Or, the things our bodies enable us to do, from covering our basic needs, to providing us with special talents or hobbies. The ability to give love, make humans, and recover.  

Emi blogs about body image on www.bodequality.com and @thecancernude.
Photo shoot by Jaine Briscoe-Price.

The breast cancer support app

You can find more stories about body image, and other hints and tips for adjusting to life after treatment, in our Becca app.

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