I started out planning to write this as a short post on my favorite bras post surgery, one of those clickbait-y "The BEST $25 bra for breast cancer survivors!!" type posts. And while I do indeed have what I think is the best wireless bra for breast cancer survivors, I have also been examining the feelings this brought up, and boy do I have some *feelings*. This is difficult and personal for me to write about but I also think it’s important to share with other survivors. My body looks and feels different after surgery and chemotherapy and I’m still adjusting to these changes. I’ve heard the mastectomy surgery described as an amputation and that does resonate with me. I am grieving the loss of my breast and all feeling associated with that area of my chest (an under talked about effect of a mastectomy). While I feel these changes particularly acutely because of what I went through, I’ve also realized that our bodies are constantly changing whether it’s from illness, childbirth, or the natural process of aging. Learning to make peace with these changes will be a lifelong process.
For me, I’ve found it helpful to focus on how I feel in my body, not how I look - do I have energy because I’ve been sleeping properly, moving my body, and eating food that actually provides nutrients? I’ve also found it helpful to actively seek out diverse body images. This is widely acknowledged but bears repeating -- the media and images we see really affect us! I loved this NYT piece on a Danish TV program that shows kids real people naked:
Mr. Schow, 29, who helped develop the concept of the show after a producer came up with the idea, said the point was also to counter the daily bombardment of young people with images of perfect — unrealistic — bodies. The adults are not actors, but volunteers.
“Perhaps some people are like, ‘Oh, my God, they are combining nakedness and kids,’” Mr. Schow said. “But this has nothing to do with sex, it’s about seeing the body as natural, the way kids do.”
I think this is so impactful, especially for kids! I have always been a swimmer and seeing bodies of all kinds, shapes, and ages in the locker room had a formative effect on me in my youth. As a shy kid, this helped me to feel more comfortable in my own skin. These days, if I do not actively seek to diversify what I see, I will almost exclusively see tall thin white women, which is problematic on many levels. I am still off of Instagram but I did some Pinterest searches for body positivity and found some lovely illustrations that helped me. While there is still a long ways to go, the body positivity movement is a nice little corner of the internet.
Hope these images help you as they did for me! And now here are some great bras that work well for me post mastectomy & reconstruction:
- An ultra comfy but supportive $25 bra from Target
- The softest lounge bra from AnaOna, a company founded to create bras for breast cancer survivors
- A fun and sexy bralette from Lively
- A comfy t-shirt bra from Wacoal (pricey, but a solid everyday wear)