Rihanna is using her latest Savage X Fenty campaign to shine a spotlight on Black breast cancer survivors.
Leiva, one of the three models, wanted her scars to be shown in photos. “I do not see my scars as scars,” she said in an e-mail. “I look at them as my handmade jewerly pieces … reminding me and others I am here and thriving.” Credit: Courtesy of Savage x Fenty
The campaign photographs feature Cayatanita Leiva and Ericka Hart, both 34, and Nykia McKenzie, 26, wearing the collection’s sporty new styles against draped pink fabric. Each model had a hand in how they were presented, either taking the pictures themselves or with the help of a loved one.
Hart, who posed 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.
“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 email 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.”
McKenzie, 26, models for the new Savage X Fenty campaign. Credit: Courtesy of Savage x Fenty
A striking disparity
As well as offering visibility to three individual Black breast cancer survivors, the campaign also brings attention to what it calls “unfair disparities” in the US health care system, due to factors like age and race.
“Black women, brown women, women of color, we need to be listened to and paid attention to,” McKenzie said in a video for Savage X Fenty. Credit: Courtesy of Savage x Fenty
Model Leiva, who also appears in the Savage X Fenty’s second runway show 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 over email, 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.”
“You know your body better than anyone else knows your body,” said Hart in a video for the campaign. Credit: Courtesy of Savage x Fenty
McKenzie, who found a lump in her breast last June, said 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.”