Saturday, 30 August 2014

With Or Without You

I had an interesting experience whilst on blogging hiatus and I would like to share it with you. There sometimes seems be an ideological divide on the issue of wearing prosthetics. I understand the idea of accepting your body the way it is and perhaps contibuting to the acceptance of body diversity and the meaning of femininity by going flat in public. However, I also appreciate the deep sense of loss that some women feel and the vulnerability that presenting such an altered appearance might require for them.  I really had no firm views either way: I go flat because it is comfortable, simple and most of the time I feel good about how I look. However, after a discussion with my husband I decided I would be fitted for prostheses, and see how I felt about them.

I went to Spirit of Life boutique, a specialist mastectomy store and I can certainly recommend them for providing very personal and caring service. I ended up with what I am told was the equivalent of a B-cup. This is significantly smaller than the E-cup I was wearing before my surgery, but after 9 months of going flat, they felt enormous! Of course, I took them for a spin as soon as I got home, trying them with most of my wardrobe and at that point I had a revelation that took me by surprise: for many outfits, the presence or absence of breasts didn't make a lot of difference. Some styles looked better, some styles didn't but it certainly made me realise why so few people even notice that I am breastless. That in itself is quite encouraging. Anyway, I thought I would share with you some photos of my experiments so you can have a visual comparison of how various outfits look with or without breasts. I have put the prosthetics versions on the left of the screen.

                           Knit and skirt:Veronika Maine
This is an outfit I worn to a daytime wedding a few weeks ago, sans breasts. I don't think the prosthetics actually improve this look. Wearing the prosthesis actually required adjusting the neckline to cover the bra staps and I prefer the wider neckline I could wear going flat.

                                                        Jeans:Just Jeans
                                                        Sandals:Joanne Mercer 
I don't think it is obvious which is which, although in real life I felt that the prosthesis broke up the drape of the top and made me look a bit larger across the shoulders.
Jeans:7 For All Mankind
Shoes: Joanne Mercer
Now, this is where I think prosthetics really come into their own. A slim-fitting jersey knit gives you nowhere to hide and my husband is a big fan of the hourglass look that prosthetics worn with this type of top provides.
I must confess that I have never worn my pretend breasts out of the house. I feel a bit awkward about creating an illusion that I am so aware is false. I know that rationally this makes no sense, as at some level most of fashion is about creating illusions; however, those illusions don't have the same sexual connotations that breasts have. In any case, it is nice to know I have options and on days when I am feeling sorry for my self and feeling like nothing looks good anymore, it is good to remind myself that I can choose to appear however I wish. Which, ironically, was not an option when I had real breasts!



  1. Sharon, this is a wonderful post. Personally I don't see much difference. Like you I prefer how the neckline sits in the first outfit without the prosthetic. The other two outfits only differ slightly to my eye with it. But it would be nice to have the option. May I ask what your husband thought. Did he feel it made a difference visually?

  2. He definitely prefers the "with" option, particularly when I am wearing close fitting tops as in the last picture. I'm not sure how much of that is about aesthetics and how much is about familiarity and feeling like he has me back the way I was before cancer. Or just, as my trainer says, "Men like boobs"! Whatever the reason, he is happy for me to dress however I please.

  3. Dear Sharon

    … from the front view it's really hard to see a variation - i think the main difference is in the profile.

    and the experiences i made are, that peoples first look isn’t at your chest when there is a friendly face above it.
    you should handle it subject to whim …

    I wish you lot of fun with your experiments.

  4. I think you are right, Eve. On both points!