What was once the source of Ericka Hart’s insecurity has become the spark for her activism.

In 2014, the queer sex educator and writer was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer, which led to her double mastectomy and a pair of inevitable scars. She kept them hidden, even in locker rooms, before mustering the confidence to attend Afropunk 2016 completely topless — a brave move that empowered her to make Black femme cancer survivors more visible and valued in culture today.

“When Ericka walks into a room, she embodies power and confidence,” says photographer Melody Melamed, who captured Hart surrounded by nature and sculptural clothing in a new photo series.

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