Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Man in Pink

Bob Carey, the Tutu Brothers and Glenn Youngling have a few things in common. They wear pink.

Perhaps you have seen the expression "Real Men Wear Pink" on a bumper sticker, or button. Maybe you laughed and thought, ya right sure.... not a real man. But let me give you my take, as a woman and Breast Cancer Survivor and warrior. Never was there a more manly thing to do that to wear pink in the support of someone you love.

Men are supposed to be the protector of the woman in their lives. And although times change and women take on or share increasing the roles that used to be exclusively a man's, like providing for the family, this one act of protection to me defines the kind of man and person someone is.

It's at first embarrassing for a man to wear pink, be it a boa or a tutu skirt.
But  I think it becomes more and more empowering each time that look of appreciation and love crosses someone's face. The vulnerability that a man displays in pink, mirrors our own vulnerability to Cancer. It is the willingness to stand proudly pink along side a woman battling Cancer that does something magical. It superpowers the warriors doing battle. They feel the strength of legions of soldiers by their side.

I have watched at the 3 day the look on woman's faces when they told me, their husbands basically 'tolerated" their walking and "put up" with the time it had taken. I see as they remark "No he didn't want to come to cheer." There's a sadness that is hard for me to see. I have had quite the opposite response from my husband.

I watched the Today show today when Bob Carey and his wife Linda spoke about the Tutu project. This is something that Bob, a photographer started 9 years ago as his way to express himself as his wife battled Cancer. Bob is not some model. He is a middle aged fellow with a face that shows life. It shows his sadness and his joy. His actions show his love and his strength in the face of something that is threatening to take his wife. Linda has had a recurrence of her Cancer and has been told it is incurable. She fights every day as does Bob.

Bob has traveled around the country taking the most incredible photos of himself in a pink tutu. His hairy chest juxtaposed to the frilly fluffy twirling skirt. His tattooed shoulder giving a clue to the spirit he displays. He finds himself laying on the street in Times Square, plastered on a rock wall, sitting alone on a bench with four trees, one fully covered with sparkling green leaves each other successively fewer leaves until  the one standing completely bare. He stands in another photo on a field of snow the only color seeming to be his pink tutu. Next to a dying amusement park where he is jumping for joy in life. This project, is an open love letter to his wife, but it is something more. It is his roar against this intruder Cancer in not only his wife's life, but his own as well.

I truly believe that is the hidden gift in the donning of pink, it gives the emotion and the frustration of being a Cancer "co-survivor" a way to be expressed. I have seen it in Glenn's eyes as one after another pink boa is wrapped around his neck at a 3 day, his shoulders relax and his eyes come alive. I have to believe, part of the feeling of being a victim shifts to being a conqueror with both of us wrapped in pink flowers. He says it is all about the look on the walker's faces when they see him, or when he puts a set of mardi gras beads around their necks that is so wonderful and I am sure it is.... but I truly believe that is not all it is.



For me, as a walker, I have to say when I see a group of firefighters in their pink, the Coast Guard at attention wearing pink or the San Jose Cops riding their bikers with pink everything.... I smile. Your feet become lighter, energy returns and there is a sense of being surrounded by the most masculine strong men on the planet. At a street crossing to see two brothers in their pink tutus lovingly making sure you are safe on the route, you feel them protect you as they had tried to protect their Mother from Cancer. There is more behind each and every man who wears pink.

Here are a few pictures of some of those magnificent men I have seen wearing pink... and please visit http://www.thetutuproject.com/ to see more of Bob's photos.

And if you know a man strong enough to wear pink, please thank him for me.