Society has a difficult time discussing uncomfortable topics. Weight, race, religion; these topics are all taboo to talk about. So what happens when things get hard, and things are real, and cancer comes up in the discussion? For one pin-up model, Elly Mayday, it changed everything. She made the decision to be very public about her battle with ovarian cancer and in turn received a great deal of support, comfort and backlash.
“When I started modeling, I went to different agencies around Vancouver. They told me, ‘You have a nice face, but the rest of your body isn’t up to par.’ I found out about this whole pin-up culture and community in Vancouver. I applied to this pin-up contest at a car show and I actually won. I created the Facebook page and it started growing and growing.
The people who first joined my page were following this bodacious, curvy blond bombshell type chick. Then, as I was fighting ovarian cancer, I became this bald, scarred, thin girl. People don’t understand that when you go through chemo your appetite is switched off. I dropped 60 pounds within a year. People said, ‘I’m not following you anymore. You get a little bit famous and lose all your weight.’ I was like: Are you fucking kidding me? But people hardly know how to talk about weight or race, so how are they supposed to know how to talk about cancer?
But there’s definitely a benefit to me being so public about it. Posting a photo was a reason for me to wake up. I’d get feedback from girls, telling me, ‘I have alopecia, I have trichotillomania, I have all of these things that make me feel insecure. But I see you up there with these scars and this bald head and you look absolutely stunning.’ That makes me feel stunning.
I don’t have a lot to my name at 27 years old. I don’t own a home, I don’t own cars, I don’t own any sort of luxury items. More and more, people are just working for that extra dollar and trying to get ahead. But that’s not what success is, success is impacting people and making them feel as whole as they can.”