For the past few weeks Flirtmoji has been releasing sneak peeks of our upcoming BODIES pack. So far, we’ve added penises and pussies. Today, we’re sharing 5 beautiful breasts. As we roll out this art, Flirtmoji artists Katy and Jeremy are pulling back the curtain and revealing their thoughts and sketches as they developed these ideas. This week, Katy wrote a piece on Ayden LeRoux, whose lovely breasts were drawn live and are included in the pack.
I love to behold (or hold) a breast. I love them in their infinite array of volumes and shapes and areola sizes. I adore a pert nipple as much as a sloping soft one. I love my boobs, I love your boobs.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of hosting the first live-Flirtmoji drawing session. Two lovely ladies, Hallie & Ayden, bared their chests for me and candidly shared their bodies and stories while I drew and water-colored.
Newsflash: the simple shape of a breast is radically inversely proportional to the stories it contains. Drawing a boob, you’re like, “Cool, circles on circles on circles, donezo!” But talking with someone about their relationship to their breasts? Man, those globes have some INTENSE and FUNNY and SAD and COMPLICATED and BEAUTIFUL things to say.
Ayden is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She’s a powerhouse who just finished a book about her practice with the performance group Odyssey Works. She’s freakishly smart, makes the world’s best scones, reads diligently…the list goes on.
For a 26-year-old women, Ayden has a very complicated relationship with her breasts. Two years ago, rather abruptly, she found out that she is BRCA1 positive. When the doctor called to tell her about these results, he introduced it by saying “You’re young and beautiful but we can keep you that way. You wouldn’t believe what implants can look like these days” and wrapped up with “You’re now my most important patient. Call me anytime.” Far from being reassuring, it Ayden remembers it feeling fake and he never got in touch to follow up with his “important patient.” Who wants to be any doctor’s most important patient? When departing my doctor’s office, I like when he says, “Hopefully I won’t see you for a long time!” For Ayden, this initial pronouncement was only the beginning of a series of even more devastating revelations.
BRCA1, Ayden’s genetic mutation, basically means that she doesn’t carry the gene to suppress breast cancer. This means that there is an 88% likelihood that she’ll develop breast cancer. Doctor’s orders? Prophylactic double mastectomy.
On top of that she has a 50% chance of getting ovarian cancer. That doesn’t sound as bad as her chances for breast cancer, but couple that with the fact that there are currently no fool-proof ways to screen for it, and it can be a pretty deadly odds.
Before this, Ayden describes her relationship with her breasts as not one of particularly intense erotogenesis, but they were certainly an intrinsic part of how she experienced her femininity and her sexual body.
“There is something perverse about cutting off a part of your body when you’re not sick,” she said, “That’s one of the things I’ve had to constantly remind myself as I process this: I’m not sick. But sometimes it feels like it’s so inevitable that I am.”
Further, almost exclusively talking with male doctors about the procedure would often leave Ayden irate. She states, “There is a constant whatthefuck moment with a lot of male doctors where they assume that I want to proceed as a woman who wants to be a mother and still come across as fertile and nubile. It feels so problematic to have a man be advising me what to do with my breasts, which are not part of their anatomy.”
This was all compounded by Ayden’s huge fears about how preventative surgery could impede her sexuality. “No one really talks about how it affects sexuality,” she told me. “It still ultimately comes down to breasts are about nursing children and ovaries are about having babies nobody wants to talk about the sexual ramifications like losing sensation in a major erogenous zone or going into early menopause. People look at breasts in relation to motherhood and fail to see them in their myriad beauties and all the other arenas they are a part of.”
“I used to be disparaging of women who felt the need to get fake breasts. I still cringe at the awful ads on the subway for them.” Ayden reflected, “Now when I’m faced with this possibility of having tits, which is what they become when they’re fake or plastic. I have more empathy with how women sculpt and make their bodies.” Envisioning an intimate moment with a new lover always spiraled into the intensity of having to explain her reconstructed body, the pain of losing her breasts, the outpouring of emotions that would ensue. It’s not that she didn’t love to get down emotionally, it’s that being consistently faced with a traumatic experience makes being happy-go-lucky in a hook-up not an easy or available option.
“I think part of me, I’ve always assumed I will have reconstructive surgery and not just a mastectomy because in a similar way of performing as a femme, it is one less thing you have to explain. There’s a level of passing to it that I’ve thought a lot about.”
Ayden started to go through with the process. She made appointments, scheduled time off work, talked to doctors. About this time, she says, “The first 6 months I was reeling and in a very dark place and felt this cold need to take care of it.” In the midst of planning for the mastectomy, she was wrought with anxiety about never having been in a relationship. Eating dinner after appointments at Massachusetts General Hospital, her mother imparted a piece of wisdom: “When you feel your strength is not something that makes you stand alone, you will be met and received by a loving partner.”
Then, Lucas came along. He was a game-changer: “Falling into a reciprocated love for the first time, amongst a few other events, and wanting to share my body with that person as much as possible made me realize that I didn’t need to be hasty, I just needed to have a plan in place.” She still needed to be hyper-vigilant and have frequent screenings, but she decided to delay the surgery for a few years. “I think being in love kind of saved me from acting too quickly, in many ways,” she said.
“I knew that I could trust [Lucas], when I met him and I knew I would tell him when the time was right. There was part of me that didn’t want to shield anything, knew that I couldn’t. We weren’t playing by other people’s rules, or following dating etiquette about how fast or slow to move. He was vulnerable with me from the get go and when I told him his immediate response was ‘I’ll love you no matter how your body is.’ I’m so glad I’ve decided to wait a bit to have surgery because it’s given me time to really appreciate and love and experience my breasts. ”
When Ayden was first grappling with the knowledge that she would lose her breasts, one of her first instincts was to memorialize her breasts in some way. “There was something about having them appreciated in art, that felt necessary in mourning their loss. So there’s something that tickles me about having people sext with them.”
“It was cathartic to have you paint and draw me,” she told me “I’ve been a model for figuring drawing on and off throughout the years, but it’s taken on a new level of depth for me to model for people. Because in some ways I feel like I want that part of my body to be appreciated while I still have it. And to feel empowered, even within the complication of that beauty.”