Love & Nudes: Reframing Breast Cancer Screening for Black Women

Love & Nudes is a Black-owned lingerie line focused on bringing awareness to Black women regarding symptomology present when screening for breast cancer. Founder, Chantal Carter created the Stage Zero Collection as a means to combat the alarming rate of mortality, for Black women, men, and trans people affected by breast cancer. Cancer is the second leading cause of death for Black women in North America, with the most aggressive form of affliction being early onset triple-negative breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Self Screening Prototype

Carter is a survivor of breast cancer and through her journey of healing, she noticed many friends and family members succumbing to the disease. The experiences which resonated most with Carter were from other Black women who were often ignored by medical professionals despite their concerns. The Perfect Match for a Fight is a panel discussion of the breast cancer experiences of Carter, Patricia Russell (survivor) and esteemed surgical oncologist, Dr. Mojola Omole. Russell shutters while detailing her memory: “… after finding a lump in my breast and approaching my doctor to investigate further, the doctor refused to examine me”. This sentiment was echoed by the panelists as a prevalent problem when Black women, men and trans people determine their self examinations warrant medical intervention. Carter concurred offering, “…despite breast cancer being an aggressive killer of Black women, the face of the disease is one of White women. This is why these garments are so important; representation matters. How often do you hear that you should check for lumps? How many of us actually know what a cancerous lump feels like? This prototype shows us”.

Love & Nudes: Stage Zero Collection

Love & Nudes was established in 2017 as an ode to Black women. Carter saw the need for nude tones which reflect the spectrum of tones of women of colour. Her mission to foster equity evolved further into changing the systemic disparities present related to breast cancer and women of colour, “Love & Nudes was founded because we saw a glaring misrepresentation in everyday products for women of colour. But our bras mean nothing if Black women aren’t alive to wear them”. Research suggests Black women tend to present with breast cancer as early as age 40, yet screening in most provinces starts at age 50; this 10 year discrepancy is an aggravating factor to the high mortality rate among Black women aged 40-49 – this is one of many changes Carter and her team are advocating for. Beyond this, Carter highlights “…over 16 percent of breast cancer cases occur in women under 50 years of age, with Black women under the age of 50 with breast cancer having a mortality rate double that of white women of the same age group”.

Founder of Love & Nudes: Chantal Carter; photo courtesy of Twitter (@ChantelCarter)

Love & Nudes is campaigning for change on a systemic level. They are advocating for the Canadian government and Health Canada to lower the age of breast cancer screening to age 40. Early detection is the key to survival and Black women are disproportionately predisposed to early onset triple negative breast cancer before age 50. Mammogram screening age is set at age 50 and up, so many women are diagnosed with breast cancer at a later stage in life. Love & Nudes is petitioning for 2500 signatures and are nearing the 2000 mark. Check out their efforts and sign up if this cause resonates with you. The Stage Zero Collection is the only one of its kind and will change how Black women see, understand and assess self screening. Join the conversation using #StageZeroCollection.


About Michelle Ormsby 31 Articles
Michelle is a Toronto-based social justice advocate. With a background in Broadcast Journalism, Michelle is a freelance artist, writer and metaphysical healer. As a self-described wanderer, she enjoys sharing unique Arts, Black Culture and Civic experiences with Torontonians and can be reached via her socials: IG @CtrlxJoy or LinkedIn (Michelle Ormsby).