Browsing English by Subject "Aesthetics"
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ItemPink Survival Porn and its Malcontents: Visual Breast Cancer Narratives in Contemporary American Media(2020) Flanigan, Lauren Nicole; Walter, Christina; English Language and Literature; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)The biggest problem with American depictions of breast cancer survivors in contemporary media is that they’re too pink, i.e. they represent the cheerful image of a white, heteronormative, cis-gendered woman of upper-to-middle-class means who easily overcomes her disease. Such patient depictions in photographic portraits, graphic novels, and television (ad campaigns or fictional episodes) suggest that only women who adhere to white feminine gender codes and sexual aesthetics can achieve survival. Meanwhile, BIPOC, LGBTQIA, and poor patients disproportionately die from breast cancer due to inaccessible or unequal care related to their lack of media representation as bodies that matter. Their truths are glossed over in the fantasy of what I call survival porn, which coopts and genericizes individual cancer experiences into a pink consumer kumbaya that benefits corporations rather than their disease-ridden constituents. This dissertation therefore examines the historical origins of pink ribbon culture, feminist health movements, and their visual entanglement with optimistic, white media metanarratives to determine why and how certain “survivors” become indoctrinated into sheroic narratives of overcoming the disease while “others” are written out of the picture altogether. Successful survivors are shown self-fashioning their personas in accordance with white, heteronormative standards of femininity judged appropriated by patriarchal medicine and cosmetic magnates. Counternarratives focusing on gender-bending these disease expectations, however, begin to chip away at the veneer of aesthetic survival, rescripting illness identities to be more inclusive of those on the fringes, for example: men, lesbians, and women of color; individuals whose inclusion within survival narratives help uncover causal determinants of breast cancer, like environmental toxins. My analysis of these personal, more plural narratives create space in the dominant, pink visual discourse for non-white and gender-fluid folx who likewise deserve to live a considered life, as defined by Audre Lorde in her Cancer Journals. Whether living with or meeting their ends from breast cancer, my academic inquiry into survival ultimately calls for an ethic of pragmatic optimism and authentic corporeal representation to allow patients with various diseases and disabilities, regardless of age, class, gender, race, or sexual orientation, to ensure greater health equity and quality of care in the United States.