SYLVIA KOUVELI: NIPPLES OUT FOR CANCER
Greek activist Sylvia Kouveli founded #bOObs and she wants you to get involved…
Tell us a bit about this project and how it came about?
#bOObs is an attempt to normalize real-life images of breasts and to acquaint women with the risks, detection and prevention of breast cancer. It’s made up of un-retouched photos of women’s boobs, regardless of their medical history, who have voluntarily posed in order to speak up about breast health. Women like you, me, your neighbour, anyone! The final result is a diptych of each woman: a pair of photos in which the first one is completely neutral and the second one is an expressive one (each woman is free to do whatever she wants with her boobs).
The idea of photographing just boobs (in isolation) originally occurred to me as a rebellious reaction to how uncommon it was to go topless on beaches in Greece. Even though I am Greek, after living in Spain for many years, I had got used to how natural it is for a woman to not wear her bikini top on a beach. So coming back to Greece, I was shocked by the fake puritanism I encountered. When I started researching topless trends through the decades, I realized how little education there is in Greece about self exams and how breast cancer can affect us. So that’s how #bOObs took a turn towards breast cancer awareness.
During a photo session, at least 3-4 women gather at my studio, we have coffee or tea and we watch a presentation I have prepared about boobs and breast cancer. This usually sparks conversation and whoever wishes to do so shares something about their experience with their boobs. Then, each woman is photographed in privacy.
The photos that make up the #bOObs collection are posted on Instagram and will be part of a series of exhibitions, starting this October.
There is no profit generated from this. The whole point is for women to help women and to educate as many people as possible.
You can read some more about it here: http://sylviakouveli.com/projects/boobs/. Also available in Greek and Spanish.
What would you like #bOObs to achieve?
As a photographer, I want #bOObs to have a visually compelling effect, to engage as many people as possible. The ultimate goal is to raise awareness about breast cancer.
How can people get involved?
If you’re in Greece or in Spain, you can reach out to me to find out when and where the next photo session will take place.
During the month of August I will be doing a “#bOObs Show & Tell” on instagram, where women who are too far away to attend the photo sessions can submit their own photo of their boobs, foobs or noobs along with a short blurb.
From October 23-29 there will be an exhibition of #bOObs at the iFocus Gallery in Athens. You’re welcome to come! Also, I’m currently looking for sponsors (media, in-kind or financial) to support me in getting the message out. This will be the first exhibition of many, so the benefits of getting involved are many-fold.
Please get in touch to find out more:
Email → firstname.lastname@example.org
Instagram → @boobs4prevention
Facebook → @SylviaKouveliPhotography
Are there any particular people who have inspired you on your journey?
Definitely! I meet inspiring, strong and positive women all the time! Women who have battled with cancer, who have had kids or lost kids, who have had operations, or gone through treatment and have come back stronger and with a wider smile. It’s overwhelming, yet encouraging to hear them tell their story, share their pain,and at the same time, watch them thriving.
What issues do you see people face in your day to day life that the world can find easy to ignore?
Communication. Even when people speak the same language, one may not express themselves fully, for fear that they will be judged, labelled or excluded. We lack compassion and we focus too much on how to live comfortably, even at the expense of our fellow beings.
Tell us about a campaign/advert that made you angry.
Lately, I’ve been angered by the double standard in nipple censorship. I try to focus on positive messages being put out there but a recent example of an advert that made me angry shows a local watermelon farmer who drives around his pick-up truck full of watermelons, selling them wherever he can. On top of his truck he has placed a large image of a naked woman from belly-button to knee, her private parts covered by a slice of watermelon with words that loosely translate to “Sweet Steve, the Watermelon Man”. Ugh! Feel free to vomit now, ladies!
What message would you put on our on our sticky bitches? (gender equality stickers, free on our site worldwide)
NIPPLES OUT. Nipple censorship is sexism
(note: we just might…)
What are your three favourite smells?
Are you more of a witch or a bitch?
Definitely a bitch!