The Tutu Project: A man dons pink tulle for breast cancer

  • Photo by: Curran Kwan

WASHINGTON, DC, May 16, 2012 - Is there anything sexier that a guy in pink tulle?

No, there isn’t.  Especially if the guy is wearing it for the woman he loves and a great cause. 

While the sight of a big burly guy in a pink tutu may be out of the ordinary, Bob Carey’s pictures speak to a large number of people.  

The pictures feature Carey in parking garages, in a field surrounded by cattle, hanging from a blue neon palm tree, waiting in an empty New York subway station, jumping around on the beach- in nothing but a pink tutu. 

Professional photographer Bob Carey first donned the minimal ballerina gear as part of a charity project for the Arizona Ballet.  When he relocated from Phoenix to Brooklyn in 2003, Carey continued taking photographs in nothing but a pink tutu, mostly as a humorous way to cope with so much change. 

Six months after moving, Carey was struck with the news of his wife Linda’s breast cancer.  The photographs took on a new purpose and the Tutu Project was born. 

Linda beat her first battle with cancer but suffered a recurrence in 2006.  She is still fighting. “During these past nine years, I’ve been in awe of her power, her beauty, and her spirit,” Writes Carey on his website.  “Oddly enough, 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.”

Some pictures are beautiful, others are whimsical and bizarre, but they all communicate something.  To me his pictures convey a man’s love for his wife and his singular way to cope -with a very personal brand of humor, art, and beauty. 

Carey has been shooting on location around the country for the last nine years, his wife Linda and their dog constantly at his side.  “We make a great team,” Carey commented.  Linda helps scout locations, runs PR with the local police, helps to guard the equipment, and critiques the work.  “Depending on where I am, many of these images have just happened,” says Carey.  “I see a great background and then I figure out how to make the photo happen….I’d have to say that the majority of the time I see something that inspires me to put on the tutu.” 

According to the Breast Cancer Society, one in eight women -12% of all women- will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in their lives. reported that in 2011 it expected an estimated 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women and anticipated that around 39,520 women would die as a result of breast cancer.  In the same year, there were an estimated 2.6 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. 

With these statistics, it is no wonder that breast cancer has touched almost everyone’s life in some way or another.  I heard someone say that there are two types of women: those who have breast cancer and those who are terrified of getting it.  There is a lot of truth to that.  Breast cancer is a tragic diagnosis that affects entire families and groups of friends.  Women’s lives are shaped by this disease; from experiencing it themselves, to living through it with a mother, relative, or friend. 

However, the impact breast cancer has on husbands, fathers, and sons is often overlooked.   While breast cancer changes the life of the woman who is diagnosed, it also shapes the lives of the men they live with.  My heart is always warmed in the spring when I spot one or two guys dressed in pink walking alongside women on the many breast cancer walks that take place around DC.  They seem more numerous every year.  It looks like a greater number of men have realized that breast cancer is not just a woman’s disease, and that it touches men and women alike when a loved one is diagnosed. 

When asked what advice he has for other husbands going through similar situations, Carey said, “The first would be, try very hard to be understanding of what their spouse is going through.  It’s like everything in life, if you haven’t experienced it, you probably can’t begin to imagine what’s it like. Be patient.  Be loving.  Let them rant if they need to, know that you can’t always make things better and listening may be all that’s needed.  Take care of yourself, find a support group, talk to other men that are experiencing this, whatever it is that you need for backup support.  You can’t help your wife if your not taking care of yourself.”

The Tutu Project is gaining momentum.  It has close to 16,000 likes on Facebook and an extremely popular webpage at  Carey is currently raising funds to self-publish a collection of the Tutu Project photos entitled Ballerina.  The net proceeds from the book will go to organizations devoted to helping women with breast cancer including and the Beth Israel Department of Integrative Medicine Fund. 

A portion of the proceeds will go toward grants that help women and families with daily expenses, “I feel this may prove to be one of the most important means of donating,” explains Linda.   “There are so many women and their families in need of practical daily support like transportation, distribution of meals, and help with costs such as medication not covered by insurance. These practical concerns are draining, and make me want to help them lessen their burden so they can focus on their fight.”  There are several ways that people can contribute on the Tutu Project’s website.

So, is there anything sexier than a guy in a tutu? 

I don’t think so.


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Laura Sesana

Laura Sesana is a writer and DC, Maryland attorney, joining the Communities in 2012.  She is the author of Colombia: Natural Parks, and has also written several articles on literary criticism.  She writes about food, health, nutrition, women’s legal issues, and the environment.  

In addition to writing for the Communities, Laura also works as an attorney and legal content writer.


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