Pioneers in Flat Advocacy
A blog series designed to highlight and amplify the voices of the flat advocates who blazed the trail and laid the foundation for those that followed.
Chiara D’Agostino is a former ESL teacher and dancer, now a prolific model and flat advocate, as well as a vocal advocate for metastatic breast cancer research. Chiara was diagnosed stage III in 2014, and progressed to stage IV shortly after. She originally chose to reconstruct her breasts with implants but explanted after persistent, repeated infections that were affecting her health and quality of life. Chiara modeled for the 2017 AnaOno + #Cancerland NYFW fashion show benefiting Metavivor, and has been featured in numerous publications over the last six years: Oprah Magazine, Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, Cancer Today, Health.com, the You Run Like a Girl project, and on the LBBC blog, to name just a few.
When you were making your reconstructive choice, how did you end up choosing flat?
“When I was making my reconstructive choice, I was horrified at the idea of going flat and not having my definition (and most of societies’, six years ago) of a “female form.” I got implants, the teardrop kind that are recalled now, and those implants got infected about six/seven times. The second to last time, my cancer had spread to my lungs and I was still in shock. But the seventh time, I thought to myself “forget these stupid things, I hate the way they look on me anyway, they’re like big rocks. Who am I trying to impress? If it’s others then fuck it!! I’m okay with going flat now – I’ve given it a good try and I can deal with it. I’ll probably feel better once these hard mounds are off my chest.” And in fact I do feel much better without the implants.”
How has your surgical result affected your healing process moving forward?
“My surgical result now allows me to focus on the rest of the breast cancer that has spread throughout my body.”
How did you decide that you wanted to be an advocate?
“I like to stand up for those who feel their voice isn’t heard (or teach them to use their voice), I love to learn, teach, be of service and to travel. As an advocate ties all of these qualities together, and then I share on social media or in person what I’ve learned. In addition, going to conferences gives me hope – I like to be in the conversation. And if I get hope from conferences and lobbying on Capitol Hill and saying “yes” to valid requests to share my breast cancer story, I will, and then they can hear the hope in my story.”
What is your proudest accomplishment as an advocate?
“My proudest are the moments when a survivor, patient or caregiver/family member reaches out to me on social media or in person and I can offer them information from experience, and some comfort.”
What has been your biggest challenge as an advocate?
“My biggest challenge as an advocate is witnessing bullying and competition between the women (I haven’t witnessed this with any male survivors) and learning the balance between tip toeing and speaking my voice.”
What have you learned as an advocate that you would like other advocates to know?
“Our stories are very important, when lobbying, telling our story to congress and senate makes a difference. When going to conferences, don’t be shy to ask questions. I learned that going to conferences gives me hope, educates me, and connects me with others that can relate or have compassion. I’ve sometimes made friends from conferences and when I go to another conference I’m happy to see them again.”
What is your vision for flat advocacy generally? What do you want the future to look like for women going flat?
“My vision for flat advocacy is more hopeful now that I’m Not Putting on a Shirt has been born…I believe the message will be spread to surgeons – that being flat-chested is an option and just as beautiful as if one has breasts or implants. Mounds on our chest don’t define us. The media has caught up with demonstrating advertisements of everyday people, so I believe more people that are flat will be showcased.”
A pioneer may start as a lone voice in the wilderness, but their passion for and commitment to their cause inspires others to join them. This has led to exponential growth in the field of flat advocacy over the last decade or so. In 2020, we have flat photography projects, full length memoirs, nonprofit organizations, communities on social media, and even gatherings across the world… all made possible by the work of the advocates who blazed the trail.
If you know of a pioneer in flat advocacy that you’d like to see featured, please let us know!
Disclaimer: Any and all information published by Not Putting on a Shirt (NPOAS) on behalf of a third party is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute for medical or legal advice from a licensed professional. Views expressed and claims made by third parties do not necessarily represent the views of NPOAS.