A breast cancer survivor is walking the runway topless to show that she’s not ashamed of the scars left behind by her double mastectomy.
Ericka Hart, 32, of Brooklyn, proudly displayed her reconstructed breasts following a double mastectomy as she strutted down the catwalk during a New York Fashion Week runway show over the weekend.
“It’s great, the energy that the people in the space bring is super supportive,” Hart told InsideEdition.com. “It brings a lot of awareness and confidence to those who are walking.”
Hart was just one of the many models baring the scars left behind by a battle with breast cancer during the lingerie brand AnaOno’s fashion show, which showcased intimates like bras with no underwire, or bras with a flat cup designed specifically for people who have undergone double mastectomies.
Each of the 30 models in the show have battled some stage of breast cancer in their lifetimes – from pre-cancerous cells in their ducts, to Stage IV metastatic. Many of the audience members have also had their lives touched by breast cancer.
“The AnaOno show feels like community, it feels like no one is questioning what your body looks like,” Hart said. “No one is saying, ‘Oh that’s interesting.’ No one is telling you that you’re inspiring.
“It’s not easy to walk down a runway so having people that look like you and having people with a similar experience makes a world of difference.”
Hart explained that she was diagnosed with breast cancer at 28 and had her double mastectomy soon after. She then underwent chemotherapy.
Although she said she was not sad to see her breasts go, she was still self-conscious, undressing in the locker room after working out for the first year after her reconstructive surgery.
“I would just go home sweaty because I was nervous about taking my clothes off in the locker room,” Hart said. “I just didn’t want people to ask me questions or be confused or weirded out or anything like that.”
Hart said she wanted to make a statement about chronic disability and breast cancer when she decided to make her topless debut at a music festival, Afropunk.
“I really thought people would just ignore me but the attention that I received was just wild,” she recalled. “It was so loving and to be received that way and to be honored […] it was awesome to say the least.”
Hart now continues to raise awareness for how breast cancer affects the LGBTQ and people of color communities.
“When I’m topless, I want you to see me,” Hart said. “I want you to be shocked, I want you to have whatever emotion it is, because I want you to see that this could happen to people who look like me.”