While the world is getting better about accepting and celebrating beauty outside of constrictive norms, social media stars have been breaking barriers and encouraging others to honor their unique features.
“Around the age of 12, as my breast tumor reached its peak size, my heart broke. It was an inescapable truth that I wasn’t a beautiful white women with options. After having my first surgery, my mastectomy, something within me clicked. I came out of my comforting dream of White Privilege. Something about waking up scarred and broken, having to redefine myself forced me to see clearly who I was for the first time. And I wasn’t empowered. I was sad and scared,” she wrote.
Her caption went on to read, “My rambling isn’t about anything other than the simple fact that REPRESENTATION MATTERS.”
The Kentucky-based mother of two spoke with Yahoo Beauty and said that she decided to share her photo and wisdom as part of her personal healing. “From the beginning, it was a source of embarrassment and shame,” she said. “After returning to school directly after my first surgery, my mastectomy, I was surrounded by a group of kids who wanted me to prove that I didn’t get a boob job during my absence. They asked me to lift a heavy backpack and they would let me go, as they had me surrounded. I lifted the backpack full of books and tore my stitches, but I was free to go. The shame and hurt I felt during that moment settled deep within me, and I was never able to fully open up about my mastectomy for fear of experiencing the same level of embarrassment.”
Initially, Brianna had a recurring tumor that began developing when she was just 9 years old. After her tumor reached its peak size, 800g, she decided to seek medical attention, which eventually led to two subsequent surgeries, with the first one performed at age 12 as a preventive measure against cancer. Fortunately, since then, she has not had any recurring tumorous tissue but checks her breasts regularly to monitor her well-being.
Pediatric breast tumors are rare but not unheard of. The National Institutes of Health reports that the prevalence of breast masses in teenage girls is 3.2 percent.
Lots of people admired Brianna’s honesty and cheered her on with positive comments and their own personal stories. One commenter noted, “Beauty isn’t based on skin color. I love dark skin anyway. You are beautiful just the way you are.” Another got a little more personal and shared, “yes! I know this feeling so well. I have eczema and dermatitis scars too. It’s something I’ve still yet to deal with. It all takes time, love, and patience.”
Scroll through Brianna’s Instagram feed, and you’ll notice an abundance of confidence echoing through her photos. She shares everything from close-up shots of underarm hair to body positive posts about self-acceptance and self-love. “I enjoy discovering my place as a Black woman in society. I also enjoy spreading awareness about important topics that are often considered taboo, such as female sexuality and bodies that are considered undesirable, unconventional …” she said. “I hope to share my experiences in a relatable manner to build compassion, empathy, and advocacy.”
Brianna attributes a great deal of her confidence to her daughters and wanting to set a positive example for them. “I want my daughters to fight for independence and autonomy. I want for them to understand their value and I want them to learn that they can and often will have to write and rewrite their own narrative because the one society offers them may be incorrect or insufficient. I have to be the woman into whom I want my daughters to grow.”
With the cultural climate we live in today, one thing is certain — representation does matter. Brianna is one of the many body positive leaders pushing for change and setting just the right tone.
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- Dark-Skinned Model Gives Her Uber Driver a Reality Check: ‘Beautiful Melanin’ Is ‘a Blessing’
- Mom With Disfigured Leg Stars in ‘Models of Diversity’ Campaign
- Why Are People So Bothered by a Colorful Photo of 5 Black Women?