BreastScreen Victoria are working to ensure their services are LBTI inclusive; because LBTI women are under screened. BreastScreen Victoria hopes to apply for Rainbow Tick Accreditation in 2018. The Beautiful Women Campaign is being conducted as part of BreastScreen Victoria’s work towards a Rainbow Tick.
Beautiful Women is a Campaign celebrating the diversity of LBTI women. It explores the characteristics of beauty, in all the shapes, sizes, colours, abilities and ages that women are. It also celebrates the contributions that LBTI women have made in challenging narrow definitions of female beauty. Beauty is presented as ‘beyond skin’ to a sense of pride in ‘who we are’.
The Campaign kicked off with a Premier Event at Midsumma Festival in January 2017 show casing photographs of LBTI women taken by photographer Lisa White (see In Bed Project and the Social Photographer). This page will provide a record of the Beautiful Women Campaign events as they occur and at present includes:
- Midsumma photo exhibition by Lisa White (January 2017)
- Breast screening session for lesbian and bisexual women (June 2017)
- Consultation – trans and gender diverse people (August – September 2017)
- Rainbow Rose – LBTI screening session at the Rose (November 2017)
More information about these activities is presented below – the most recent activities being at the bottom of the page.
1. Midsumma Photo Exhibition
Having a photographic exhibition as part of Midsumma Festival was an important way to raise awareness of the Campaign and celebrate LBTI women. Thirty women participated in the photo shoot and twenty images were selected for the exhibition. The images are presented in the slide show below (c) Lisa White, The Social Photographer. We have also included the poster that was developed for the Exhibition. The poster is now hanging in the Rose Clinic at David Jones and has been so warmly received that BreastScreen Victoria are redeveloping it as a poster for any of their centres.
The Exhibition was launched at the Incinerator Gallery in Moonee Ponds, Victoria and was attended by over 100 people. We were luck to have Lisa White there to photograph the launch (photos below).
Response to the exhibition
The response to the exhibition has been both powerful and heartwarming. The exhibition was picked up by media around the world including: Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, Mashable and Buzz Feed (see links at the bottom of the page). The story was written up in Japanese, Polish and Italian, with a potential readership of 200 million+.
The response to the exhibition by LBTI women was also very positive. LBTI women embraced the opportunity to celebrate their diversity – the response to the call out for participants was overwhelming. Women reported that the diversity of beauty is a concept that resonates – but is seldom celebrated. Women who participated in the photoshoot were invited to finish the following sentence “To mean Beautiful LBTI Women means …” Here are their responses:
- Jacqui: When I first read the email asking if I was interested in taking part in a photo shoot of “LGBTI Beautiful Women” I laughed out loud! As a fifty-something lesbian, I just wasn’t used to that tag. So I love that this exhibition is happening and am really proud to be a part of it. And I hope all the twenty-something lesbians out there will have embraced the tag ‘beautiful women’ by the time they’re fifty!
- Michelle: For me Beautiful LGBTI women means … that coming out as our true selves is more about the empowerment of self. Society is resistant to seeing women with a less than ‘perfect’ image. So positive female power is the courage to walk into a room and being unapologetically yourself which cannot be diluted or ignored. There’s an enormous amount of judgment of ourselves and by others and the more we can strip that away the better. It’s incredibly challenging for young girls these days and we must remind them that “life goes on for a long time and you’ll be many things in that time”. As a Trans Parent of two young daughters I am against “false beauty standards” and promote “natural beauty and femininity” to make a powerful statement about being a modern woman. The reality is we live, we love, we continue, and we contribute all with truth and that’s the true essence of beauty.
- Barb: Beautiful LGBTI women show their strength and kindness.
- Suzanne: Beauty is feeling comfortable in your own skin.
- Helene: You have to be comfortable in your own skin. You got to love yourself to attract other people to you. You have to be proud of yourself. Don’t worry about other people’s opinions because there are bound to be knockers. Be out and proud of your sexuality. Be confident. LGBTI women should have no fear of BreastScreening because it’s done by a female technician. They take their time with you, they talk you through it step-by-step. And it’s important because breast cancer is more common in women over 40 – whether gay or straight.
- Bree: For more beautiful LGBTI women means celebrating women who are the best and proudest versions of themselves. Beauty is within. #onelove
- Natasha: To me beautiful LGBTI women means firstly accepting myself exactly as I am and secondly giving myself permission to play. Being a bio-queen has helped me to find ways to redefine what beauty is. I love big hair. I love glitter and colour. And I love knowing that doesn’t take away from my geeky socially-akward wonderment. My favorite part of any day when I have a performance is walking out after in my baggy pants, or my robe, in full makeup. I’m always Beni Lola and Natasha Jynel. I love finding moments to celebrate my own diverse personality. To me, that’s beautiful.
- Gina: Beautiful LGBTI women means the way a proud LGBTI woman holds herself with heart, creativity and humour. No smartphone ‘filter’ can ever capture or improve on that.
- Meg: For me beautiful LGBTI women means: women loving women; women’s bodies are BEAUTIFUL and soft and curvy; its important to share your life with someone who thinks the same and has amazing stories of why they became a dyke; beauty is diversity and being true to yourself, not being sucked into expected roles of beauty and who to love; not having to explain WHY to my dyke friends.
- Kerrillie: For me beautiful LGBTI women means a shared understanding, a sense of community and of not having to explain yourself. An openness and celebration of the different ways of being. Of realising that this is where you always belonged.
- Cara: For me beautiful LGBTI women means revealing an essence of freedom that is internal and external.
- Kris: For me beautiful LGBTI women means having the freedom to be who we are and not having to hide behind labels.
- Sally: For me, beautiful BGLIT women means: celebrating the diversity of bodies, relationships, identities and expressions; all of these are valuable and need to be valued. All of these are beautiful in the vision of their own beholder – where beauty really matters. CELEBRATE and VALUE the DIVERSITY!
- Robbie: For me Beautiful LGBTI women means that I’m free now. I had a massive cancer 20 years ago and I was in intensive care and when I came to, I realised that I was a lesbian.
- Dianna: For me Beautiful LGBTI women means women who love life, stand proud and strong, and take good care of themselves, the ones they love, and their community.
- Jenny: For me LGBTI beautiful women is about acknowledging that women’s faces and bodies tell their own unique stories of amazing lives, loves, experiences, challenges and hopes. It’s about celebrating that uniqueness with pride and vivacity.
- Mary-Faeth Chenery: For me, Beautiful LGBTI women means acknowledging the beauty in women who have a different perspectives on life and love, who have the gift of courage to express that difference, and whose lives serve as models for others to care for and work for freedom to express diversity. All life is beautiful to me, and Beautiful LGBTI women have a special beauty that draws me in and includes me.
- Sal: For me beautiful LGBTI women means celebrating life by being myself and embracing the wonder and delight of this journey.
- Leonie: For me beautiful LGBTI women means living life on your own honest terms. Mr Shakespeare said it best: This above all – to thine own self be true.
- Brenda: For me Beautiful LGBTI women means …. being confident to be yourself anywhere and everywhere. Head up, out and proud. Making life easier for those following behind.
- Anke and Mandy: Beautiful LGBTI women means… celebrating beauty that is far more than skin deep. It means celebrating diversity, community, solidarity and pride. We love that we are part of a community rejoicing in the uniqueness and the shared experience and understanding of what it means to be LGBTI women.
- Sarah: To me, “beautiful LGBTI women” means frocks with docs, butch one day, femme the next – whatever – or whoever! – takes your fancy. It means no rules.
- Anneke: To me beautiful LGBTI women means gorgeous, androgynous, butch women who are proudly lesbian.
- Catherine: For me Beautiful LGBTI women means celebrating the diversity of women beyond binaried expectations of how women ‘should’ look and ‘should’ behave. I love that as LGBTI women we redefine beauty more broadly and organically. I love the idea of celebrating beauty beyond ‘skin’. I love the concept of beauty as a sense of pride in who we are. I love that we are finally celebrating this.
Positive feedback about the Beautiful Women exhibition continues. Several months after the launch one of the participants sent us an email from her friend of 18 years, who was living in the UK. The email read:
“Hiya …!! I wanted to share this with you – a friend of mine has recently come out as a lesbian and was really struggling with where to go from that point, and with people accepting her. She called me yesterday, in great excitement, to tell me that she’d found something that really cheered her up: a photography project all the way from Melbourne of LGBT women – and lo and behold, who’s the first picture? I was able to delightedly tell her, “That’s my friend Barb!!” She wanted me to tell you that seeing you (and all the other women) gave her a massive boost.”
We love that The Beautiful Women Campaign is sending the message to LBTI women that they are valued. If you would like to share your pride as an LBTI women you can do so using any of the links below:
2. Screening lesbian & bisexual women
Women who participated in the Campaign told us they wanted mammograms with their mates. They also wanted to encourage butch lesbians to participate – because they feel this group is under screened. In response BreastScreen Victoria hosted a screening session for lesbian and bisexual women at the Rose Clinic in David Jones, Melbourne. The event was named, shaped and promoted by women who participated in the Campaign – special thanks to Gina Lambropolous, Bree McAullay and Jac Tomlins for this. The 12 places available for mammograms were fully booked and 25 women attended the event. Participants called for BreastScreen Victoria to facilitate the event annually. Thanks Lisa White for the photographs.
Lisa White was on site to photograph the event and we had a “Butch is Beautiful” social media frame to help send the message to butch women that BreastScreen Victoria welcomes them.
Women who attend the BreastScreening event were invited to record a message about breast screening to other lesbian and bisexual women – here are some of their responses:
We’re Worth it – Bree’s first mammogram
Bree McAullay had her first mammogram at the Butch Melon Camp event – and then wrote about her experiences. Bree is creative writer – and the piece she wrote was picked up by the Star Observer newspaper. Bree’s article includes reflections on the professionalism of Monique – her radiologist and the two got to meet again at JOY 94.9 FM when Bree was part of a radio show that interviewed Monique about the event.
Family Matters – JOY 94.9 FM
In June 2017, Gina Lambropoulos, producer of the popular Family Matters show on JOY 94.9 FM, invited BreastScreen Victoria into the studio to talk about Butch Melon Camp. The show was fun and engaging and goes a long way to in helping to get the message out there. You can listen to the “Don’t be a boob – get your breasts checked” podcast here.
3. Consulting Trans & Gender Diverse people
BreastScreen Victoria is currently working with TransGender Victoria and other experts to develop a survey consulting Trans and Gender diverse people about their knowledge and screening needs. The survey is expected to be launched in August 2017 and will be followed by a community consultation in which Trans and Gender diverse people are invited to further guide BreastScreen Victoria on the development of inclusive services. Information gathered from the survey and face to face consultation will be utilised by BreastScreen Victoria to inform:
- Initiatives to achieve LBTI inclusive services – and a Rainbow Tick
- An online training module for BreastScreen Victoria staff
- A policy guiding Trans and Gender diverse breast screening (there are currently no evidence based guidelines in Australia to inform best practice)
- Information for Trans and Gender diverse people about their risk factors and best practice is breast screening or chest care.
BreastScreen Victoria will share the information and resources with BreastScreening services in other states and territories to influence the development of Trans and Gender diverse inclusive services nationally.
4. Rainbow Rose
In November BreastScreen Victoria will hold their second LBTI screening session at the Rose Clinic, David Jones Melbourne. More details coming soon.
About BreastScreen Victoria
For the past seven years BreastScreen Victoria has been working to ensure their services are LBTI inclusive. This work has included participating in the program How2 Create an LBTI inclusive service in 2010 (report), sponsoring a film annually at MQFF and working with a committee of LBTI experts on developing LBTI inclusive services and achieving a Rainbow Tick.
Alice’s Garage Links
Alice’s Garage is proud to worth with BreastScreen Victoria on the Beautiful Women project because of their commitment to LBTI women and because breast screening is an important part of healthy ageing.
In the Media
Raising awareness of the Campaign is incredibly important to get the message out there to LBTI women. We are very grateful to all the journos who covered the Campaign:
- Huffington Post UK (17/1/17): Beautiful Portraits Of LGBT Women To Help Everyone Feel Welcome At Breast Cancer Screening (Rachel Moss) link here
- Vanity Fair Italy (13/1/17): LGBTI: le foto delle donne per prevenire il cancro al seno (Alessia Arcolaci): here
- Mashable (12/1/17): Powerful portraits of LGBTQ women aim to raise breast cancer awareness: link here
- Buzz Feed (9/1/17): Photos of older LGBTI women celebrate breaking beauty norms (Lane Sainty): link here
- Elle (Italy): Cancro al seno prevenzione LGBT. Link here
- Metropotam (Romania): Beautiful LGBTI Women – campania cu femei LGBTI pentru prevenirea cancerului la san: link here
- Our Platforms (16/1/17): Transgender People Aim To Raise Breast Cancer Awareness: link here
- Homosensual (Mexico): Exposición para prevenir el cáncer de mama en mujeres LGBTI: link here
- LGBTI Bulletin (10/1/17): These Photos Of LGBTI Women Are To Help Increase Breast Cancer Screening Rates: link here
- Today USA (17/1/17): Powerful portraits of LGBTQ women aim to raise cancer awareness. Link here
Segundoenfoque: Retratos de mujeres LGBT ayudan a prevenir el cáncer: link here
- Amino: Imágenes de mujeres LGBT ayudarán a prevenir el cáncer de mama en Australia: link here
- LGBTQ Buzz: Have you seen these images of older LGBT women. Link here
- Lesbians Everywhere: Estos retratos de mujeres LGBT van a ayudar a prevenir el cáncer de mama en Australia. Link here
- Mirales (Spain): La fotógrafa Lisa White colabora para prevenir el cáncer en mujeres LGTB. Link here
- Star Talk TV (USA): These Photos Of Older LGBTI Women Celebrate Breaking Beauty Norms. Link here
- Breast Cancer: Powerful portraits of LGBTQ women aim to lift breast cancer awareness. Link here
- Cancer: These Photos Of LGBTI Women Are To Help Increase Breast Cancer Screening Rates: link here
- Breast MRI. Striking portraits of the LGBTQ community aim to raise breast cancer awareness. Link here
- Medaxs: Powerful portraits of LGBTQ women aim to raise breast cancer awareness. Link here
All About Cancer Today: These Photos Of LGBTI Women Are To Help Increase Breast Cancer Screening Rates: link here
- Articles on news webpages including: trendolizer; thenet24h; welkermedia; follownews
- Sydney Morning Herald: 20 things to see, hear and do this weekend. link here
- SBS (13/1/17): 15 top tips for Midsumma Festival 2017 (Stephen A Russell): link here