Going Flat: Breast Cancer, Mastectomy and the Politics of Choice


  • Abigail B. Bakan Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)




Mastectomy, breast cancer, reconstruction discourse


Breast cancer, if it advances, is life threatening. It is also widespread. My life was changed when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. There was much that I did not expect, including a hegemonic culture of “breast conservation.” I opted to “go flat” after bilateral mastectomy, resisting reconstruction plastic surgery. A politics of choice—like that demanded for reproductive rights—has yet to find similar resonance in the world of breast cancer treatment. This article considers reconstruction hegemony and the emerging movement to advance the choice to be, in words coined by a pioneering Facebook group, Flat and Fabulous.

Author Biography

Abigail B. Bakan, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)

Abigail B. Bakan is Professor in the Department of Social Justice in Education (SJE), at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. Her research is in the area of anti-oppression politics, with a focus on intersections of gender, race, class, political economy and citizenship. Her publications include: Israel, Palestine and the Politics of Race: Exploring Identity and Power in a Global Context (2020) (with Yasmeen Abu-Laban); Theorizing Anti-Racism: Linkages in Marxism and Critical Race Theories (co-edited with Enakshi Dua); and Negotiating Citizenship: Migrant Women in Canada and the Global System (with Daiva Stasiulis).




How to Cite

Bakan, A. B. (2020). Going Flat: Breast Cancer, Mastectomy and the Politics of Choice. Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies, 11(1), 39–63. https://doi.org/10.17742/IMAGE.BR.11.1.4