Those of you who’ve had cancer, and I know that’s at least a few of you, are familiar with the parallell universe that is Cancerland, a strange destination where everything tries its best to be business as usual, but nothing really is. And when you’ve lost a breast in the bargain, the haze of recovery becomes just that much thicker. A dear friend is inhabiting her own personal Cancerland right now, and she’s handling it with unimaginable amounts of grace and good humor. She has requested that I find her some attractive mastectomy bras (does it surprise any of you to learn that people are forever delegating shopping tasks to me in times of crisis?) and this has turned out to be about as simple as locating an English-speaking puppy. What is wrong with this world, people? How nuts is it that at the very moment in a woman’s life when her sense of femininity has been most compromised, she can not find a bra that makes her feel like a woman? We did locate this one, from Dutch lingerie designer Marlies Dekkers; it’s called the Care Bra and comes in many colors and with all the right pockets and straps and adjusters. But it’s only available on her (Dutch) website, and after shipping fees and a less-than-ideal exchange rate, it’ll run you over $100. More affordable options include a couple from Royce, like this black number with just a little bit of lace, and this one, which is a little more straightforward. I also found this nude bra from Amoena, which is nice and minimal and pretty much exactly what my favorite t-shirt bras all look like.
But mostly I found myself disappointed: by all the cute little lingerie boutiques here in Manhattan with nothing to offer, and the big department stores that unilaterally came up empty too. Victoria’s Secret almost did the right thing a few weeks ago when, in response to a change.org petition with over 128,000 signatures, they announced they’d start manufacturing mastectomy bras. And then just as quickly backed out, explaining that “Through our research, we have learned that fitting and selling mastectomy bras in the right way…is complicated and truly a science.” Nobody, of course, has more resources and money to devote to creating and marketing whatever kind of bra they want than Victoria’s Secret, so I’m not quite buying that. But I am hoping they’ll change their minds.