Sixteen women who are breast cancer survivors and had had mastectomies or reconstructed surgery took over New York Fashion Week in alternative lingerie to raise money for the charity Cancerland.
In the US, cancer researchers say that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Despite these statistics and the increased campaigns to “save the boobies,” the lingerie industry has to done little to offer anything to the breast cancer survivors that had to lose theirs in order to save their lives.
Of the few brands that offer these post-mastectomy bras, the options are utilitarian, leaving women without the option to feel sexy or feminine.
AnaOno, an alternative lingerie brand, was created by breast cancer survivor, Dana Donofree. Donofree launched the brand in 2014 for women that are post-mastectomy. She had started the line after her own mastectomy, realizing that traditional lingerie no longer fit.
All of the runway models that were featured had different body shapes and visible surgery scares. Nearly half of the models had advanced breast cancer and one was diagnosed as terminal.
On her website, Donofree wrote about her inspiration for the show: “As I slowly rebuilt my own self-esteem and confidence, first by getting a mastectomy tattoo, then by talking to other women about life after acute treatment, and finally trying on my first bra prototype, I wondered why none of this was part of some greater ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Mastectomy’ pamphlet they handed out at your surgeon’s office.”
Donofree hopes that her show will change the conversation about breast cancer, from saving the boobies to saving the women and leaving them feeling sexy, strong and confident, not like a part of them is missing.
As AnoOno runway model Chiaro D’Agostino said, “I felt powerful, felt really powerful because I am tired of kind of feeling ashamed of having cancer and not having breasts like a woman. Whether I have nipples or breasts or not, I am a woman.”