Would you rock a pink tutu if it meant saving lives?
When photographer Bob Carey's wife, Linda, was diagnosed with breast cancer, Bob found himself in "awe of her power, her beauty, and her spirit."
"Her cancer has taught us that life is good, dealing with it can be hard, and sometimes the very best thing—no, the only thing—we can do to face another day is to laugh at ourselves, and share a laugh with others," Bob explains on his website.
So in 2003, Bob started The Tutu Project, a therapeutic photography series that features Bob himself sporting a pink tutu in incredibly captivating locations.
The project's mission is to raise money for men and women with breast cancer, as well as bring "support, laughter, and understanding to a community that has endured far too much," according to its website.
Because "that's what I do when things are getting hard. I start making photographs," Bob says in a video explaining the project.
"It just makes me laugh, to see my husband dancing around in a pink tutu. It helps be positive. The more I laugh, the better I feel," Linda adds in the video.
Then, Linda would take the photos to her treatments and make other people laugh, too.
"Isolation is a strong theme in the work and that resonated with many women. The whimsy and humor also brought laughter into the arduous chemotherapy sessions," Linda tells A Plus in an email.
And then people everywhere connected with the series.
"This project is no longer just about Bob and I. When it went viral, we received so many emails and Facebook messages thanking us for sharing our story and bringing hope and laughter into their lives," Linda tells A Plus. "It was amazing that people want to talk about cancer and the impact it has had as well as [this] project, on their life. We were humbled."
Now, participants from all over the world are "dared" to snap pictures rocking their own pink tutus, available for purchase through the foundation, post the photo to social media with the hashtag #Dare2Tutu, donate to the cause if possible, and then dare someone else to do the same.
All together, the project raises awareness while bringing "some levity to the realities of life with breast cancer," just as Carey does with his own photos.
"Laughter, levity add a bit of balance to the upside down that cancer creates," Linda tells A Plus.
And both the donations and the photos really do make a difference.
Funds raised with #Dare2Tutu go to The Carey Foundation, a nonprofit that donates "directly to organizations that offer assistance with cancer-related costs such as transportation to treatment, home care, childcare and medical supplies."
For example, just $20 can provide a patient with transportation to and from their treatment, $100 can provide a wig with a fitting, and $1,000 can provide five patients with up to a month of pain medication.
But aside from raising the money, Linda says that through the project, she hopes that she "can be an inspiration to others living with cancer, particularly those living with metastatic breast cancer."
Linda has been on chemotherapy for nine years now, and believes that having a positive attitude "has helped me a great deal, as has working on this project...We both hope [Bob's images can] put a smile on someone's face and — even better — get them through a chemotherapy treatment with a bit of levity."
"This all sucks, you know. And it's stupid that it's happening. There's no reason for us to suffer through it like this. I'm here to make people happy," Bob adds in the video.
Finally, Linda tells A Plus that the most special aspect of the project is, of course, her husband:
"Here's a guy, not your typical ballerina, willing to put on a tutu and show/share his vulnerability to the world. In the freezing rain; a snow storm; standing barefoot in the Hudson river; in Times Square, he's not afraid to put on a piece of pink tulle, bare-shirted and barefoot, and he does this over and over. With his art and dedication he's added smiles to many faces, possibly shifting their day for the better," she says.