Pioneers in Flat Advocacy
A blog series designed to highlight and amplify the voices of the flat advocates who blazed the trail and laid the foundation for those that followed.
Stephanie Astalos-Jones (FLAT Is Where It’s At)
Stephanie Astalos-Jones is an actor, writer, stand-up comic, teacher, pysanky (traditional Ukranian batik egg decoration) artist, and saw-player from Georgia who chose to go flat after her mastectomy in 2018. Unfortunately, her surgeon left her with an egregiously poor surgical result “in case you change your mind” (his words at her post-op follow up), and she then had to fight to get her revision surgery after the first plastic surgeon she consulted told her that “women can’t be flat.” In 2019, Stephanie started FLAT Is Where It’s At, a podcast for and about flatties where she and her guests discuss the specific problems, weird situations, and wonderful freedoms that we experience living the flat life.
When you were making your reconstructive choice, how did you end up choosing flat? How has your surgical result affected your healing process moving forward?
“As can be seen on the NPOAS site, I wanted flat right away because I had seen a dear friend choose flat two years previously and it made sense to me. (Included is a pic of the two of us now.) Unfortunately, my first surgeon did not listen to me. He was sure I would want implants. And what did he do to me while I was unconscious? Look at that bruising!!! Anyway, I ended up finding surgeons who DID listen to me and I eventually got the flat result I wanted, but only after undergoing more surgery, more anesthesia, more pain, more bills, more recovery time. That’s crazy!”
How did you decide that you wanted to be an advocate?
“After a few months, I began to feel that I wanted to do something to help other women. It was clear that we needed to do a lot of talking or even hell-raising to get surgeons to understand that, yes, some women do NOT want implants. (Not to mention implants can actually be damaging.) I had thought before that it might be fun to have a podcast. It suddenly dawned on me that this was the perfect opportunity to create a podcast. You can see a promo for my podcast here.”
What is your proudest accomplishment as an advocate?
“I have to admit I’m pretty happy with the podcast. I meet a different beautiful flattie in each episode. I have gotten email from women who tell me it has really made them realize they are not alone. Also nice is that women who have never had cancer are telling me that they find the interviews very empowering… just as women.”
What has been your biggest challenge as an advocate?
“Some days, when I’m exhausted and busy and facing personal emotional strain, it takes some energy to get an episode made, but I truly love it, truly love the women I meet in each episode, and love what this whole thing is doing for other flatties.”
What have you learned as an advocate that you would like other advocates to know?
“I have learned that advocacy makes a difference. One person plugging away CAN make headway for others. I would want other advocates to understand that they have the power to make a difference.”
What is your vision for flat advocacy generally? What do you want the future to look like for women going flat?
“My vision for the future is that when a woman is diagnosed, her surgeon will explain that, if she wants, she can just stay flat and that the surgeon WOULD ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO GIVE HER GOOD RESULTS.”
A pioneer may start as a lone voice in the wilderness, but their passion for and commitment to their cause inspires others to join them. This has led to exponential growth in the field of flat advocacy over the last decade or so. In 2020, we have flat photography projects, full length memoirs, nonprofit organizations, communities on social media, and even gatherings across the world… all made possible by the work of the advocates who blazed the trail.
If you know of a pioneer in flat advocacy that you’d like to see featured, please let us know!
Disclaimer: Any and all information published by Not Putting on a Shirt (NPOAS) on behalf of a third party is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute for medical or legal advice from a licensed professional. Views expressed and claims made by third parties do not necessarily represent the views of NPOAS.