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Unapologetic Beauty

Unapologetic Beauty

by Joanna Frueh

Photographer Frances Murray

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

136 pages, 152.00 x 203.00 mm

  • ISBN: 9781517906566
  • Published: February 2019

£19.99

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A startlingly powerful collaboration reimagines female beauty

What is beauty without pain? Compromise is what our culture offers women: cinching, pinching, cutting, shaving, scraping, starving, and, of course, lifting and separating, all in service of one sharply circumscribed model purported to be pleasing—but not to most, if any, women. 

This extraordinary book reimagines beauty at its most provocative and fetishized locus: the female breast. Artist, writer, and scholar Joanna Frueh scrutinizes ideals of beauty and sensuality, often motivated by her experiences with breast cancer. Frances Murray, her friend and collaborator for more than thirty years, documents Frueh’s journey of unapologetic beauty in a series of intimate, dazzlingly original photographs before and after her bilateral mastectomy and chemotherapy.  

Reflecting with insight, directness, and humor—and with contributions from a breast surgeon, an oncologist, and artists and scholars who have had breast cancer—Frueh arrives at a new, liberating view of beauty and of the sensual pleasure found in transformative self-acceptance. Central to this reckoning is her documentation and critique of the notion of hyperbeauty (the flash of flesh appeal, hyperthin, hyperfeminine, hyperbosomy, hypersexy, and hyperyoung sold at the global 24/7 beauty bazaar) and her playful, inventive presentation of tools for remaking minds and hearts disfigured by self-denying ideals.

In its bracing critique, passionate argument, and compelling narrative—all illustrative of its own unapologetic beauty—this collaboration is a performance of startling power, stirring to consider and a pleasure to behold.