Parks Department Won't Let Breastless Cancer Survivor Swim Topless [Updated]

Illustration for article titled Parks Department Won't Let Breastless Cancer Survivor Swim Topless [Updated]

What do you think: are breast cancer survivors who choose not to have reconstructive surgery "family friendly" or subversive? The Seattle Parks and Recreation department says the latter, and won't let flat-chested Jodi Jaecks swim topless in the city's public pools, even though she explained that she experiences extreme nerve pain when she wears swimsuits.


"She made it clear she wanted to show her scars as a 'badge of courage' and wanted to use the pool to spread her message," parks spokeswoman Dewey Potter told The Stranger. But Jaecks and her supporters say that's ridiculous; what if she was transgender? "A transsexual would wear a bathing suit of the gender he or she is at the time of using a pool," Potter said. Only after being vetted by Parks and Rec, apparently.

Dr. Patricia Dawson, a breast surgery specialist at Swedish Medical Center, called the policy both "stupid" and "incredibly misguided" and said the issue "clearly reflects how politicized women's bodies and breasts are in our culture." To add insult to injury, city law doesn't prohibit nudity in the first place: swimming topless at public beaches isn't against the law unless unaccompanied by inappropriate behavior. You know, like surviving cancer!

Update: Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Christopher Williams issued a statement saying he will consider future requests from breast cancer survivors with double mastectomies to swim topless on a "case-by-case basis":

"After looking at the situation again, I decided to reconsider based on the circumstances of the case. Our original concern stems from our responsibility to accommodate the needs of all our patrons. In this case I see nothing that might alarm the public. I think our staff were correct to follow our policy at the time the earlier decision was made, and my decision is based on new information."

"What 'new information' did the city have between last week and this week?," The Stranger wondered. "Bad press. Parks officials note that The Stranger 'ran a piece that showed a photo of the cancer survivor.' Which raises the question: Does every breast cancer survivor who wants to swim topless need to be bold enough to have her topless photo published in the newspaper?"

Cover Up [The Stranger]

em>Image via Kelly O/The Stranger



Does she have to wear a top? No. Should she? Probably.

Nothing like taking the kids for a swim and having to explain about things like potentially fatal illness, surgical removal of cancerous tissue, and wearing one's scars as a badge.