Inner beauty

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In today’s society it seems that the perfect female body features the perfect pair of breasts. We carry a huge weight not on our shoulders, but on our chests.

That’s why I was shocked to learn that somebody whose claim to fame depends on having the perfect figure was willing to trade it in for a guaranteed life without breast cancer.

The New York Daily News published an article detailing the extensive measures that Alynn Rose, a contender for the Miss America title, took to prevent herself from contracting breast cancer — a disease that took the lives of her mother, grandmother and great aunt.

Regardless of the pageant outcome, Rose, who has what some would call the “perfect” body, planned to undergo a prophylactic mastectomy to remove both of her breasts to ensure she won’t develop cancer. Rose didn’t win the title, but she won my respect.

Rose has received hate mail telling her not to go through with the surgery, calling it “mutilation.” Would you rather be “mutilated,” or contract a deadly illness?

The bottom line is that cancer mutilates bodies from the inside out and that mutilation almost always affects more than just the patient. If there’s any way to avoid this then all precautions should be taken if it’s possible.

To me, deciding to have your breasts removed when there’s no guarantee of actually contracting the disease is an exceptionally brave move for somebody who could have a genetic predisposition.

Rose’s place in the public eye means a step has been taken in redefining what it means to be a woman. She’s placed a greater value on strength and courage than a body that so many women dream of.

My mum embodies the less public version of this redefinition. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, she underwent a single mastectomy. She no longer has her left breast, but to me she could not be a more perfect model of the woman that I hope to become.

Thanks to women like my mother and Alynn Rose, courage and strength are starting to remodel today’s definition of beauty — turning the emphasis from the outside in.

Rosie is one of the Features Editors at the Journal.

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