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Breast Cancer ‘Graduate’ Aniela McGuiness Talks Inner Beauty And Body Image: ‘We Are More Than Our Accumulated Body Parts’

Elana Pruitt Update on 21-08-2017
Breast Cancer ‘Graduate’ Aniela McGuiness Talks Inner Beauty And Body Image: ‘We Are More Than Our Accumulated Body Parts’

Aniela McGuinness is a true rebel. The Florida-based breast cancer “graduate” took the cards she was dealt with, shuffled the shit of them, and turned irony and sadness into works of art.  

You see, Aniela receiving diagnosis that she had stage 1 breast cancer was the plot twist of a lifetime. She was just three days short from her appointment to schedule a preventative double mastectomy (having learned that she carried the BRCA 1 gene) when her doctor broke the news to her. Aniela, both a model and comedian, was 31 years old at the time and still mourning the loss of her mother to ovarian cancer from just a year and a half earlier. A tough time, to say the least. 

 

“The week before my double mastectomy. Took the "girls" for a farewell field trip!”]

“The week before my double mastectomy. Took the "girls" for a farewell field trip!” 

 

But as Aniela proceeded with a skin sparing double mastectomy, chemotherapy, and eventually breast reconstruction, she made the conscious decision to make her circumstance public and allow both breast cancer patients and non-breast cancer patients to learn about the human experience with the battle. From providing candid blog posts on her website, www.mybreastchoiceshow.com, and sharing YouTube videos that shed light on the darkness of breast cancer (e.g., watching Aniela receive the doctor call regarding her diagnosis as well as shaving her head before her first chemo treatment) to exploring her strength and confidence in more than one creatively powerful photo series, the professional funny woman has become a proud open book. 

Currently in remission and continuing to kick ass in the modeling, film, and comedy world, Aniela believes in the power of inner beauty, self-love, and having a positive perspective on body image – especially when summertime approaches and skin-baring fashion is calling your name. 

So it’s with great honor we introduce RebelMarket’s latest interview! May you find inspiration in Aniela’s humorous, honest, and forthright perspective on breast cancer, the lessons she has gained as a woman, and why real style always begins within.  

 

Can you touch on ‘body image’ both before cancer and a little bit after? How it may have changed… 

 

It was actually a huge change…surprisingly. I’m not sure if you’ve come across Herself.com yet, but it’s really cool. It came out in the beginning of 2015 [Caitlin Stasey created it]. Herself.com is a website for women, by women, featuring different body types of women. And so they’re all nude photos – unphotoshopped – of women of different ages, different sexual orientations, different races…I highly suggest reading through it. It’s amazing and definitely helped me feel more comfortable about my body. I also posed nude in it, with an interview, in the middle of chemo. So bald and tit-less, I was like, “Well, let’s get naked!” [laughs] I figure if anybody says anything, they’re assholes because I had cancer. It gave me the total freedom to do whatever the hell I wanted.  

And in regards to it being “swimsuit season” coming up, that website is extraordinary. No comments are allowed and features different types of women with in-depth interviews, all with the same questions. There’s one woman on it who’s transsexual, and has gotten her breasts done but still has her penis. And shows it. There are women who are overweight and older…and it’s just so beautiful to see this.   

 

“A few months after chemo and my reconstruction. (reenacted my farewell photo)”

“A few months after chemo and my reconstruction. (reenacted my farewell photo)”

 

I can imagine the feeling of liberation that may have come from you posing nude on Herself.com! It sounds like thats how it felt for you…. 

 

Well, I’ve always been the good girl. So, I wouldn’t cross certain lines because “I wanted people to like me.” And cancer gave me a permission slip. Like, “If you don’t like me and have an issue with the things I’m doing, like showing my breasts; that is your problem. ‘Cause I had cancer and you’re a dick.” [laughs] 

 

Your communication about your experience with cancer carries such comedic and heartfelt undertones...it’s just fascinating. And in your controversial cancer poem, in which you humanized the disease, you provide a very unique perspective. Can you share some insight as to your goal with this poem? 

 

Originally, I wrote the poem for my one-woman show while I was going through cancer. I play “cancer” in my show. So in the process of fleshing out who Cancer would be, the director/co-writer, Tony Rivera, would sit with Cancer, and I’d be in character and he would ask me questions. Having to answer from Cancer’s point of view….changed my point of view of Cancer. When you speak from someone else’s voice you begin to empathize. I mean, the asshole never thinks they’re the asshole; they always feel justified in their reason. I played him as a real person and had to ask, what were his intentions? What were his goals? And, why did he do those things? It helped me not hate him. It helped me not hate cancer.  

So that poem was written for the show, and that was the point of view that I felt he would have. My goal is to just have people stop for a moment a question how they view cancer.  

 

That’s interesting that you use the pronoun “he” in reference to cancer… 

 

Yeah, I feel it’s more masculine energy. Not to make it against men or anything, but there is this aggression that men tend to have more often than women…a dominance of taking what they want, and not necessarily caring about the outcome or who gets hurt by it, or who is going to be affected by it. We do that as a society anyway…we do that with this planet. We take what we want and don’t really worry about the consequences.  

I’m realizing that how much we – as a human society – are very similar to this thing that we “hate.” You know, we hate cancer, we hate how invasive it is, we hate that it doesn’t care… 

And it’s not out of being malicious, it just doesn’t give a shit. It has it’s self-interest above anything else. And when I step back and realize that we as human beings have been doing the same thing – we move into areas we want, we take over wetland, we do what we wanna do – I’m like, how can I hate cancer? I understand cancer now, but it doesn’t mean I want it in my body. 

 

"You can't arrest me if I don't Have Nipples. #FreeTheNipples"

"You can't arrest me if I don't Have Nipples. #FreeTheNipples"

 

What an interesting perspective. Do you feel any sense of victimization in your experience with cancer? 

 

Oh, this goes down a very dark path, which is the undertone of the poem. I did not blame cancer – I blamed myself. Like, what did I do to get this? What did I not do to get this? So I never blamed cancer; I blamed myself for allowing cancer to happen to me. I never felt like the victim, instead I felt like the perpetrator.  

 

My first thought went to nutrition in regards to susceptibility and disease. Are you referring to what youve consumed in the past as a potential reason for getting cancer? 

 

A little bit…I agree that nutrition must play some in developing cancer – we can’t not look at what we’re eating. People say things like, “Oh you need to eat this” or “Did you try this?”. The advice wasn’t out of a place even though, I mean, they were unsolicited suggestions [laughs]; but it felt like I was being blamed for having cancer. They were trying to figure out if I got cancer by doing this or not doing that. And so when people give unsolicited advice, a lot of times it’s because they want some level of control of “How can I not get this thing?”  

And I realized afterwards that blaming myself for cancer, which was partly what that poem was about, was me trying to find control. Because if I was at fault that meant that I could change something so it wouldn’t happen again. Because if cancer was fully random, that is such a horrifying thought…that it’s hard to wrap your head around. That you have no control over life whatsoever, that something like that could just happen. So, it’s easier to blame cancer, to blame ourselves, to blame nutrition…to blame anything else rather than just going, “This is random.” And it happens.  

But back to your first question about image! It’s a wonderful question. 

 

Oh yes! Your thoughts on body image both before and after cancer… 

 

So I did a photo shoot series [other than big photo shoot series], which has not been posted and was privately done. It was with a high-end fashion photographer, who I have worked with previously. And when he found out that I had cancer, he reached out and said, “Hey, come over before your surgery and we’ll photograph your breasts and your body.” It was about three to four days before surgery when he said this, and I was like “Ok, yeah, great! Fancy-ass photographer. Let’s do it!” [laughs]  

So, we shot these nude photos. And then once I was in chemo, and had the surgery and lost all my hair, he asked, “Let’s shoot again? Let’s do a follow-up to these photos.” I was like “OK, let’s do it.” ‘Course I didn’t need any hair and makeup that time [laughs]. So we’re shooting again, and I’m standing there naked, and we’re looking at the photos and he pointed out how much more comfortable I was with my body nownaked and bald with scars on my body— than I was before all of this. Like when we had the first shoot, in between shots, I was awkwardly covering up my body. I was in the best shape of my life [when I got diagnosed], but I just wasn’t comfortable. 

But then, when we shot again, I was so comfortable just standing there. And all of the trappings of beauty were gone. My hair was gone, my nails were detaching, no nipples, and the silicone implants hadn’t put in yet. But it was wonderful. I mean, it was a journey to get there, as I had to mourn the loss of each of these items. But once I was in it, I loved my body. I loved my body so much more when I was bald and with scars than I ever did prior. 

 

"Having fun with my bald, chemo style. Went out dressed like a man. Women were strangely attracted to me and men were strangely attracted to me and everyone was confused."

"Having fun with my bald, chemo style. Went out dressed like a man. Women were strangely attracted to me and men were strangely attracted to me and everyone was confused."

 

…And your immediate response to someone who asks “Why?” 

 

Because I learned how much my body loved me….and I never realized that before.  

At the end of chemo, I actually wrote a love letter to my body. I posted it to my blog – it’s probably one of the first things on there. And it started with me apologizing to it. Apologizing for having starved it…and saying bad things about it…and cutting into it…and poisoning it…and then thanking all that it had done for me. The same thing I did with cancer—humanize it—I did with my body, as if it’s separate from me. I wrote to it as a separate human being. And in that I realized that the love my body gave me by healing, over and over again…always showing up and giving me unconditional love. I would poison it weekly, and it would heal by the end of the week. It would get me up again. I cut into it and it would heal itself… 

And in watching my hair fall out – something I put so much value in…I had long, beautiful red hair, and that was my identity. I was a redhead! And then shaving it off and watching the rest fall out…and then watching my eyelashes fall out and my eyebrows fall out…and my pubic hair fall out…I mean, all of it falls out. And remembering how much time I spent on it [my hair], and you know those moments when you don’t want to leave the house because your hair doesn’t look good [laughs]…it all meant nothing. 

 

Were you able to live in the moment when you posed this second time, or did you find yourself having flashbacks from the first photo shoot, to your “old self?” 

 

I was able to stay in to moment. The “old-self” feels like a completely different person. I talked to other cancer patients about this as well, ‘cause you change so fast while you’re going through this. Normally, you’re not used to looking in the mirror and looking completely different. I remember while I was in chemo, I would see photos of myself prior to cancer. Even just months prior…and it was a completely different human being. That person was gone. So I had accepted a new version of myself, repeatedly, because it would change over and over again.

Part of the love that I learned was I stopped talking badly to myself. If I would get up and I hurt or I’d look in the mirror and my body didn’t look the same…rather than standing there naked in the mirror and turning and squeezing the parts of our bodies that we don’t like. I mean, it’s genuine abuse that we do to ourselves. But we all do it, and I would catch myself looking in the mirror and being dissatisfied for that second and going “Ewww, this has changed.” And I’d stop, and go “No, this is beautiful. Thank you.” And I’d thank that body part. “Thank you extra weight I gained because you are padding my organs. Thank you scars – you healed.” And so I had moments where I wanted to thank it rather than criticize it.  

It just changed my perspective. I remember when I finished chemo and I was getting out of the shower, and I looked in the mirror, and I remember this moment very vividly. Like I’m drying myself off and I looked in the mirror, and I was like, “Damn, you’re sexy! Damn, you look good!” There was a freedom to say I was beautiful now because I had cancer.  

 

"One week after my double mastectomy was Halloween, so I dressed like Bride of Frankenstein to get my drain bag removed. It was the first time I saw my post-surgery breasts and I realized that I looked like a badass."

"One week after my double mastectomy was Halloween, so I dressed like Bride of Frankenstein to get my drain bag removed. It was the first time I saw my post-surgery breasts and I realized that I looked like a badass."

 

I felt this judgment as a woman prior – and I most likely put this judgment on myself – that if we, as women, said, “I love my body. I think my body is beautiful, and I don’t dislike anything about it”…then society judges us as narcissistic and vain. Like, “How full of herself is she that she loves herself?” [laughs] There is this negative connotation that comes with loving yourself…with genuinely thinking you are beautiful. And, until I had cancer, I didn’t feel like I had permission to say that I loved myself. That I thought I was beautiful. You always hear the “She’s so pretty because she doesn’t know it”[laughs]….which is so fucked up. Cancer gave me the freedom to say, “Yes, I love my body.” And because now, my body is “flawed” according to society standards, instead people say, “Awe, good for her…for loving something she really shouldn’t.” [laughs] 

 

So very true! It’s like, dont love yourself too muchGod forbid. 

 

Yeah! Yup. Or, if someone says, you’re beautiful you better not say “I know I’m beautiful” if someone compliments you. [laughs] Rather, it’s like, “Ohhh well, but my hair is actually really dirty” or “Ohhh that photo was photoshopped”…Like we use all these excuses if someone compliments us, rather than going, “Yes, thank you.”  

 

I agree. I think its hard for women to receive a compliment and just say “Thank you”….Im guilty of always telling people how much something was on sale if they say they like it!  

 

I hate that, and I still do that to this day because I love thrift stores. I’ll be like, “Yeah, I got this from the thrift store for $10” – to show that I’m not uppity. It’s like we wave this white flat during a compliment to go, “Oh, but I’m not an uppity bitch. Please like me.” Men never do that! Men are like “Yeah, I know.” But I think it’s because we hear it over and over again in our society, in our YouTube culture…in social media. Instagram “models” are followed for being sexy…and told that is valuable. That having the nice ass and the great hair, and the perfect nails….that those things are where your value lies. And in the comments she is trolled and called an attention-seeking slut and full of herself. So as women, we’re trying to straddle between those two worlds of being told that that is where our value lies. And yet, still at the same time, being humble [laughs]…and self-deprecating: “Oh, but I’m funny too.” And I don’t think our value should be placed on our beauty – I really don’t. I genuinely believe I was more beautiful when I was sick and going through this, than I ever was prior. And I modeled! It’s really about inner beauty… 

I learned that the stuff that was on the outside I put all this value in was bullshit.  It’s bullshit and it’s gonna go away some day. It’s a diminishing asset that we have invested all of our self-worth in. It’s diminishing – the value is falling. And we have put so much effort and so much time into that. Really, what we need to value is inner beauty. I find that I can have my short boyish hair and no makeup on when I got out but if I smile, show love, and connect with another human being…I know that that’s where the beauty lies. That’s all that matters. Having perfect hair and perfect nails and all that…I don’t even waste my time.  

 

Youve gone through so many internal changes amidst your experience…Do you ever have the desire to grow your hair long again? 

 

Ummm…it goes back and forth. I forget these lessons sometimes, and I have to remind myself, like “Oh, I learned this lesson.” Just today, I looked in the mirror and I did think, “Maybe I should grow my hair back out…Maybe I’d be cuter.” I mean, I have those moments. And I don’t want to lose what I’ve learned from this. I can sometimes feel it slipping away…because I am an actress by trade. This business I’m in puts so much value on the way I look. 

 

"Just saying..."

"Just saying..."

 

So, if someone said to you, “You inspired me because”….what would you ideally want her to say? 

 

Ummm…I guess part of it would be for them to be comfortable with their bodies. That’s one of the big reasons why I did the photo series in the first place. ‘Cause I wanted women to realize that it’s OK. We are more than our accumulated body parts [laughs].  

Another one is helping women get through cancer with a little less fear. So I’ve get notes from women and I got one the other day…for I did a video on how to make a drain bag holder for like four dollars [laughs]…and I got a letter from a woman in Ireland who had just went in for mastectomy, and she wrote me an email after and she’s like, “Thank you so much. It was a lifesaver in recovery. And I didn’t think about having one before researching and finding your video. And I made it, thank you. It helped me function, it helped me get through this.’ I like to be able to allow women to see that it’s a learning experience and they don’t have to carry the burden of… shame or sadness. I mean, it’s sad and it sucks to be told you have cancer.  

But I genuinely appreciate cancer. It healed me so much more than it made me sick.  

 

In regards to exercise, what are some things you do to continue feeling good physically and maintaining a sense of wellness?  

 

For me, I go slow. I feel, as women, we are bombarded…It’s like we have to do kickboxing class, hot yoga, and all this. In all honesty, I have good and bad genetics; I’m genetically prone to being slim and I’m genetically prone to cancer. Sooo…it’s a trade-off [laughs]. But yes, because I’m naturally slim it doesn’t take much for me to have this body shape. And I think a lot of women don’t realize that. They’ll look at someone who’s genetically prone to being slim and be like, “Well, I wanna be that size.” It a trap. The key is to be healthy with your body’s equilibrium. I was 108 lbs. before cancer. During chemo I went up to 118 lbs. and with very little work I am back down to 108 lbs. 

So on the ideal morning, I’ll get up, stretch… do two sun salutations then meditate for about 25 minutes. Half of that being metta, which is like a loving-kindness meditation. Then I go on a slight jog-walk-run. I’m not even running that much [laughs]. I quit, and then I walk a little bit, then I jog-ish again. And I do a mile to a mile-and-a-half… 

Then I oil pull – I’m really big into oil pulling. It’s an Ayurvedic practice of putting coconut oil in your mouth, or sesame seed oil, and swishing it around lightly for about 20 minutes first thing in the morning. And it relieves toxins from your body, reduces inflammation, whitens your teeth…I did it during chemo, and it helped keep from getting mouth sores. Like I had one mouth sore, started oil pulling again and I never had another one during chemo. That’s blatant proof that the 2500-year old practice really does work. I did a video on it, so you can see how to do it. I also drink a lot of tea, no sugar or cream. And that’s my health thing. That is all I do…I’m not doing some crazy exercise regimen. I’m not trying to have major muscles – I’m just trying to do a little bit every day. That’s it, and being OK with that. I feel something’s better than nothing.[laughs]  

It's like, run that marathon…go to an hour-and-a-half kickboxing class…or I’m not going to do anything. I mean, go around the block twice! And just a little bit, I found, makes such a crazy difference. And I think also loving my body – I’m not joking. I think genuinely just telling my body I love it so much…it’s now being nicer to me. I wore a bikini for an indie film the other day, and we were on a yacht, and I looked down and I was like, “Holy shit! I look fucking hot! I’d do me.” I was shocked – this is incredible! 

Because you love it, you treat it better. And because you treat it better and love it, you look better. But at the same time you really don’t give a shit if it doesn’t look better because you love it anyway.  

 

"I was humbled. Good News CBS 12"

"I was humbled. Good News CBS 12"

 

So being that we’re in swimsuit season and its that general time to celebrate skin-baring fashion, are you able to stay focused with loving your body and not nitpicking? 

 

Well, it is a mix. There will be moments where I’ll look and see that thing, and be like, “Oh.” And I could be hypercritical and still be like, “Ugh, my thighs! My thigh gap is ehh…” So it’s a conscious choice – there is that conscious choice to stop. And I’ll catch myself. I’ll catch those moments of looking in the mirror and being dissatisfied…and the moment I go to say something critical about that body part, I stop it, touch it and kinda pet it and say, “I love you. You’re so cute. Thank you.”  

So it’s that switch, and I will catch myself sometimes going to be critical. But then it quickly changes. But it’s practice – you get better as you practice [laughs]. So as you do it more, you get better at it….and you get stronger at that skill of stopping the self-criticism. It’s that moment you let it go…when you genuinely don’t care if your body looks good or not. And I don’t mean in a giving up “I’m just going to eat donuts” kind of way – but in a “I love you no matter what” kind of way. Because your body loves you unconditionally. We have never felt love like we have from our bodies. It shows up every moment of every day – it breathes for you every moment of every day for your entire life. That’s the only thing you’ll ever have with you your entire life.  

 

So true and something that we tend to forget… 

 

It’s like a mother for you. It genuinely cares for you; it cradles you and it loves you. But at the same time, it’s like a child that you must take care of. It’s also your best friend…it knows all of your secrets. I think once you look at it with such reverence, you realize that your body is a miracle – an absolute miracle – how can you talk bad about it then? How can you say bad things about it when it loves you that much?  

 

So what would you say to another cancer graduate who wants to show some skin and look as great as they feel? Any select fashion pieces you’d suggest she wears or keeps with her?  

 

Well, I live in Florida and we have nude beaches. So one of the first things I did once I was healed enough to go to a beach was I went with a girlfriend, and we both went to the nude beach together…and I had no nipples but was like, “I’m gonna sit on this beach and feel this.” And people would look and look away really quickly, and I felt uncomfortable. So I had to ask myself, “I keep saying I’m comfortable with my body, but right now, I see people looking away from my body…like, what am I feeling in this?” I highly suggest people doing it, if they’re emotionally ready.   

Now going to the fashion side of it [laughs]… 

 

Yes, I realize how trivial a chat on fashion sounds right now… [laughs] 

 

No, no, you’re right. What can we wear…? Oooh, I know! So there’s this Japanese book that was going on, that everyone was reading, on organization…it’s amazing. Her main concept is holding every item you have and ask: “Does this spark joy within me?” And it doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be a rational choice. Like it can be a t-shirt I’ve had since I was 12 of Mickey Mouse…but if sparks joy within me then I get to keep it. Then you are only surrounded by items that bring you joy. This idea carries over to what you decide to put on your body. Whether they are colors that you love…whether it’s a certain cut you love…and whether you are a small girl, big girl, have scars, freckles, whatever that is…if this is something that you’re like, “I’m a robust girl and I love to wear string bikinis and have my titties out, and it sparks joy in me,” then hell yeah…you do that. Wear it and make sure that everything you bring with you also sparks joy. Bring a book that when you touch that it it makes you feel passionate and smile. If you have a pair of sunglasses that make you shine, whether they’re knockoffs or the biggest, round ridiculous things, you bring those with you to the beach. Bring a towel with you that’s your favorite color. Bring a snack with you that makes your mouth water and that makes you feel good. And you put on as much sunblock as possible [laughs]. Sunblock is the best accessory at the beach.  

 

So when it comes to fashion, it sounds like your overall philosophy is based on your inner compass – letting your feelings guide your choices.  

 

Yes, and the rest of it is bullshit. ‘Cause that style of swimsuit that’s “in” this year will be out next year. And that color or print that’s hip this season will be out next season. And to judge what we’re going to do or wear or be by that..is a another trap. It’s a trap to think that that’s where your self-worth has to come from. If there is something you love and it will bring you joy, buy that and wear the hell out of it. And wear it for the next 10 seasons if you want or wear it just this season. 

Then once you have the pieces that you just like fashionably by themselves and you think they’re amazing and fun, and you like how they feel or smells, you don’t have to justify that to anybody else at all. ‘Cause you feel good about it. And I think that if you were to surround yourself with every single item that made you feel good when you went to the beach, it doesn’t matter what you were wearing. You have this great book, ridiculous sunglasses, and this beach towel that makes you want to lay on the beach….how can you not feel good about yourself? 

 


"One year after chemo and surgery."

"One year after chemo and surgery."

 

Now in regards to your overall vibe and sense of style, we love your rebellious spirit! From your photo shoots to your videos… 

 

I sparked joy within me. Making that series, thinking about it, thinking of the ideas…’cause I was the Art Director on it as well…and so thinking of the ideas, thinking of what I wanted each one to look like for each stage…going through that brought joy within me. So much joy. This is why I made them. And I’m like, “Well, if they made me joyful, maybe they’ll make other people joyful.” And if they don’t make other people joyful, I don’t give a fuck ‘cause I was joyful making them [laughs].  

But I have to tell you the Internet has been so kind to a women showing her tits…I’ve gotten two negative messages sent in total. And one, after she and I talked about it – I just noticed she was in pain and lashing out – she melted back down again. But yeah, the Internet has been amazingly kind. But I think it’s because it was out of just joy. I made myself happy. 

 

Did you ever have any initial doubts about putting yourself and your story out there?  

 

I had moments where I thought this might be really controversial. [laughs] I had been planning this photo series when I was going to get a preventative mastectomy…I was scheduling a preventative mastectomy and when I found out I had cancer. So when I thought of the idea, it made me chuckle. Then the director I got was going to do a documentary on a preventative mastectomy. The documentary now is completely different and it’s a one-woman show. But the director I had did not like the idea at all. He liked the idea of a photo series, but he wanted it to be somber…black and white… [laughs] the classic cancer photo. 

But for whatever reason, I knew this was something I had to make. And when Blast Em’ Photography finished the first photo, we were like, ”This is awesome.” Then in the second photo we did, “We’re like oh my god, this is brilliant.” We fell in love with what we were creating.  

And you know, honestly, nothing in my life changed from it going viral. [laughs] 

 

How do you feel about that?  

 

I hate to admit this but deep down I thought, “I’m an actress. This might be great for my career.” And then that slowly got burned away. As I would post things, I was like, “This is gonna go viral, and I’m gonna be amazing.”  Like I really would have those moments. You’re in a culture that really pushes that…as an ideal! Like “Yeah…you need to get famous!” I posted a photo of me a week after my mastectomy, and I’m like “This is gonna go viral!” It didn’t. I posted the original video of me getting diagnosed with cancer. I’m like, “This is gonna go viral!” And that didn’t either.  

Each of those moments was a wonderful learning lesson of going, “Oh…OK.” 

 

Yes, I watched the video of you getting the diagnosis from your doctor over the phone and it was… 

 

Insane. Yes, it was an insane video. And then I did the doctor’s office dance party thing, and I thought that would go viral too…In each of those moments, I felt like this thing, this thing, right here… I’m gonna be on Ellen! [laughs] And every time it didn’t happen, it helped me adjust and burn down that desire…’Cause I asked myself, “Well, would I still have put this out if nobody watches it?” and the answer is a definite yes because maybe there are three women who do watch it and it helps them. Plus, it helped me. It helps me heal as a human being to make art. And then this thing did go viral, and I realized that nothing in my life changed. Like Nothing. Absolutely nothing in my life changed. I’m like, “Oh that’s interesting too.” So this thing that I wanted so badly prior doesn’t hold any value either.  

 

"Finally learned how to style this stage in my #chemocurls."

"Finally learned how to style this stage in my #chemocurls."

 

That’s interesting. So rather, it sounds like whats changed is you and your perception on things… 

 

Yes. And with the photo shoot series, yeah OK, a lot of people got to see it. But it didn’t change my day-to-day life. I didn’t win a million dollars because of it…Nothing in my day-to-day live changed because of it. That’s big for people to know. This thing that you think you’re working so hard to make happen – won’t change your life. You’re still gonna be who you are the next day. [laughs] You’re still you…you still gotta pay your bills. You still have the same money coming in…and it’s OK. Instead the idea is let me keep making this ‘cause it helps me heal. And maybe if it helps me heal, it’ll help other women heal in the process…which feels a lot better ‘cause that’s a lot more of a payout than the money and fame.  

 

Do you share Anielas views on inner beauty and body image? Feel free to comment below in addition to connecting with her on Twitter, YouTube.com/MyBreastChoice, and Instagram

 

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Cover image courtesy of: Aniela McGuinness