A pageant queen asks us to redefine breasts

Allyn Rose at TEDxChapmanU (Photo: TEDxChapmanU)

Allyn Rose at TEDxChapmanU (Photo: TEDxChapmanU)

Allyn Rose shocked the world when she decided to have a preventive double mastectomy during her pageant career. At TEDxChapmanU, the former Miss District of Columbia explains why she wants to change the way society thinks about breasts.

“Breasts are a pretty powerful thing,” she says. “Breasts help nurture and feed a child; breasts are an iconic part of the female body. But breasts also have the power to kill you.”

And this is why she has made it her mission to get society to see breasts differently — to not look at them as essential to womanhood, as a mark of a “real woman.”

Rose lost her mother to breast cancer when she was just 16. “My mom didn’t [have a second mastectomy],” Rose says, “and she didn’t do it because, to her, being a woman meant having breasts and my mom wanted to be a woman … Why would [my mom] who lost her own mother to breast cancer, lost her aunt to breast cancer, faced a battle with breast cancer before … decide to keep her breast when she’s faced with some pretty damning odds?” Rose asks.

Because of the same reasons why Rose got hate mail when she announced her decision to have her surgery. Because breasts are seen as necessary to womanhood, Rose says.

“I’m known exclusively for my body,” she says. “Not for my brain, not for anything else, just for my body. I’m a pageant queen. I walk onstage in my bikini and we’re scored on that; we’re scored on all these things that have to do with our physical body. I make my money, I pay my bills on my body.”

Which is why when Rose announced she’d have a mastectomy, onlookers thought it was “radical,” she says. And this is exactly the attitude she wants to overturn.

“For me, it was all about perspective,” Rose says. “Do I have a beautiful life or a beautiful body?”

Watch Rose’s whole talk to learn more:

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