Hannah was nine years old the first time she was forced into the brace which was created to address her spinal deformity. Hannah is required to wear her brace for twenty-three hours a day until she is finished growing. She wears it to school, out with friends, bed, and is allowed a one hour break in order to bathe. A decision about whether surgery will be necessary to correct for the curvature in her spine occurs after puberty. A new casting and fitting usually occurs every nine months as she grows. Currently, her curvature is continuing to advance despite her strict bracing regimen.—Julia Cybularz
Breaking the Girl chronicles the combined experience of nine-year old Hannah and that of Philadelphia-based photographer Julia Cybularz, who also suffers from severe scoliosis. Unlike Hannah, Cybularz says she refused to wear a brace as a child and never opted for the surgery. The work is an ongoing series—a poignant, poetic narrative undulating between the shared experiences of the two. Meanwhile it captures a sense of adolescence, of finding a place to fit in; a thought Hannah seems to contemplate as she sits with her brace splayed open like an accordion, birds flying freely above her.