In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Rihanna is shining a spotlight on Black breast cancer survivors.
The singer’s lingerie brand asked three “survivors and thrivers” to model new styles from a capsule collection that will directly benefit the Clara Lionel Foundation, a charity founded by Rihanna back in 2012. A press statement also said that Savage X Fenty is going to donate a portion of the proceeds -- up to $250,000 in total -- to help the organization fund cancer research and support for Black people diagnosed with the disease.
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This Breast Cancer Awareness Month we wanted to highlight a few hella Savage Survivors & Thrivers 💖 We teamed up w/ @claralionelfdn & passed the mic to 3 badasses who are resilient, inspiring, surviving & THRIVING, hunny 💅🏿 First, meet @_cayatanita. She's fresh off the #SAVAGEXFENTYSHOW VOL. 2 runway & is here to tell us her story. Check her out then hit up our Stories for even more from Cayatanita. Want all the deets on how we're workin' w/ @claralionelfdn to make a difference in the fight against cancer? Hit up savagex.com 💪🏿 #SavageXThrivers #SavageXSurvivors
The stunning campaign photographs feature Cayatanita Leiva and Ericka Hart, both 34, and Nykia McKenzie, 26, wearing the collection’s new styles which come in grey and--of course--a soft shade of pink. Each of the models had a hand in how they were presented, either taking the pictures themselves or with the help of a close friend or family member.
Hart, who can be seen posing in a gray bralette and panty set, was diagnosed with two types of breast cancer at once: HER2-positive and triple-negative. The model credited the Black femme and queer communities with being a source of support during such a difficult time.
“The Savage X Fenty campaign was affirming of my experience as not just a breast cancer survivor but all of my intersections of identity as a Black, queer, non-binary femme,” Hart said in an interview. “Many cancer campaigns focus on one aspect, your chronic illness but not how your various identities play a role in how you navigate cancer ... I also loved that the campaign didn‘t focus on poses that focused on strength as the sole image for living with breast cancer, but rather is just showcasing people who want to share their experience to make a difference for someone else.”
Along with offering visibility to three Black breast cancer survivors, Savage X Fenty’s campaign also brings attention to what the brand calls “unfair disparities” in the US health care system, due to factors like age and race.
Back in 2012, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention--based on data from 2005-2009--revealed that the death rate for African-American women diagnosed with breast cancer was 41% higher than that of White women, despite fewer cases. The gap had lessened four years later for younger Black women, but not for those over 50.
Another model for the campaign, Cayatanita Leiva, was diagnosed with triple-negative cancer in 2018.
“What was ... great was having to bring things to light and to share my personal journey,” she said in an interview, adding that the campaign spoke about ”Black and brown concerns in the health care system and how there is a need for more representation in our communities.”
McKenzie found a lump in her breast last June, and says she was misdiagnosed twice before finally receiving treatment by a third doctor.
“By March, my breast was the size of a mini watermelon. At that point, I knew what was going on,” she said in a video accompanying the campaign. “Knowing that these images will be seen worldwide means everything to me, mainly because I know now my story is being heard and that my storm was always bigger than me because the triumph is even bigger,” she added in an email interview. ”I know now that black women will be heard in regards to our health and our healing. I hope these images convey to you all that there‘s work to do and that starts with listening to young women who look like me.”