Two weeks ago my friend Sarah and I went to an exhibition titled, ‘Nevertheless, She Persisted,’ created by Mhairi Bell-Moodie at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall in Edinburgh. The exhibition featured portraits of 25 different women and told their stories of how they fought and survived traumatic events such as rape, abuse, child loss and illness. The photographs highlighted “taboo” topics and encouraged others to talk about their experiences.
Reading about the lives of all these incredible women really put my own life into perspective but it was the breast cancer story that hit me the most. I have found lumps in my breasts in the past that had to be checked out by doctors and then referred to specialists in breast clinics. I am very grateful that on both occasions they were only Fibroadenomas (breast mice) and not cancerous in any way. The thoughts that ran through my head as I had ultrasounds were horrible and I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for the women who didn’t receive the same news as I did.
I applaud the women for having the strength to overcome these awful things and share their experiences in such an open way and I hope that everyone else finds the courage to talk about their own issues with others. Despite us living in the 21st century, people still feel like they can’t share their stories for a number of reasons. There are many stories of girls who don’t want to report sexual assaults because they feel like they won’t be taken seriously.
I wanted to write a little about this exhibition because I wish for everyone to be able to talk without fear of repercussions. Rape Culture is still prominent today even though it has been around for decades when it should be a thing of the past. The series of photographs that were shown shone a light on subjects that usually stay in the shadows. Unfortunately, the series is no longer on display at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall but there are talks of it being showcased in different cities across the country.
I love the quote, “Nevertheless, She Persisted” and it was the perfect title to match the collection of photographs that I saw presented in Edinburgh. As a feminist, I think the term truly represents the movement and the battle that we face today in gaining equality. I like to think of us all feeling empowered by overcoming difficulties and being proud of the people that we are. I picked up this postcard at the exhibition (I believe it can also be purchased online) as a little reminder of that. Life can really get me down sometimes and I know it’ll give me that little boost that I sometimes need.
When Sarah and I finished looking at the photos and reading their accompanying stories we were asked to write a message and leave it in a basket for the women to read. I couldn’t think of anything to say to them that could possibly make their lives easier in a way that I wish I could. Instead of my own thoughts, I chose to write a quote that I try live by as a reminder to always keep my head up and I hope that it might help them too.
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
I’d much rather you went and saw the exhibition for yourself rather than just reading how it impacted me, therefore you can have your own thoughts on each story and have the time and space to reflect on them all. I just hope that anyone who reads this, no matter who they are, remembers to speak up. Talk to a friend, a parent, a doctor or a therapist, just anybody you trust about anything you need to share. When you’re not alone, it gets easier. I promise.
Mhairi Bell-Moodie’s Instagram
Mhairi Bell-Moodie’s Website
Nevertheless, She Persisted Instagram