I feel passionate about being a ‘flattie’, a woman who chose not to reconstruct after breast cancer treatments and doesn’t want to wear breast forms either. I am getting used to being flat and am experiencing the stares of curiosity that is a normal part of our humanity but also a showing of how few women chose to ‘go flat’ after breast cancer treatment. You may have read a recent article I wrote for Role/Reboot, an online magazine questioning gender in society. Here is the link:
The article pretty much sums up why I think women are hesitant to put their breast forms aside. I am active in an online forum for breast cancer survivors and the women on this board really would like ‘Flat Awareness’ to occur. We cringe at the thought of Plastic Surgery Reconstruction Day (October 17, search google-!) We don’t want foreign objects in our bodies. We don’t want to wear forms to maintain a ‘socially acceptable body image’. We want to be accepted as women who have decided against reconstruction and we want to push this image into being widely accepted in the societal visual lexicon of what a female body can look like over the course of a lifetime. This isn’t just a choice for women who are ‘of an age’ (i.e. having no stake in the game, and believe me, this is often the response I hear when I say that I decided against reconstruction, it goes like this, ‘Oh! My mother (aunt, grandmother) decided against reconstruction but she was _ _ years old.’). We want to turn the repressive body image pressures off and create a new sexy, strong and beautiful but we are flat or half flat!
Today, I participated in a taped segment about my hospital’s Breast Cancer Survivors Pool Program. This is a local ABC News at 5 program. And believe me, I made sure I would be taped with no towel covering up my beautiful flat chested body. I went to represent me and my fella flat chested survivors. Hopefully, my interview will make the 90 second segment! At the same time I spoke with the reporter about the Breast Pocket project to raise awareness for those of us who decide against reconstructing our bodies. The reporter said, “If you can get 1000 pockets, contact me, we will try to do a story.”
I seek a physical representation of the women that you know, who made the decision not to reconstruct their bodies after breast cancer by way of making breast pockets (explained below).
Women who decide against reconstructing their bodies often wear prothesis or breast forms, as they are also called. These breast forms need pockets sewn into bras, camisoles and swim suits in order to hold the form in place. These forms can be quite heavy, uncomfortable, they shift, rub against our scars, often contribute to the dreaded, under-studied and life long struggle with lymphedema. Many of the women on the cancer boards I frequent do not want to wear forms, these women often feel compelled to keep up a ‘good image’ in their workplace and on the streets of their hometowns. We want to see acceptance of our choice and to let other women who have to make this decision to know that it ain’t all bad! So, won’t you please make a breast pocket in the name of your friend, mother, aunt, sister? Lets break the walls down, stop being quiet and making nice, lets build a world where it is acceptable to go flat after breast cancer treatment. With this call for breast pockets, I am using the idea of the shirt pocket, also called breast pockets to make an artistic statement about breast cancer and deciding to forego reconstruction.
Please, help me to take this reporter up on her offer to build awareness for us ‘flatties’.
Call For Art: Breast Pockets (pockets as you would find on your favorite button up, pocketed blouse). There are many shapes of pockets, the western, patch, button down flap, choose a style!
If your aunt had a unilateral mastectomy without reconstruction, make just one pocket and/or flap. If I am the only ‘flattie’ you know? Oh, well, you will need to make a pair! The point is, I would like a physical representation of how many women forego reconstruction. I am lifting the curtain and peeking in. How many women do you know? Make pockets for each one, unilateral or bilateral. Each pocket should have a name attached to it, first names only. Please use the pattern on my site (see link below), or make your own pattern, because breasts come in all sizes and shapes, make them with your tools and media, don’t think twice about it. These pockets can be cloth or paper or.
And please, invite your friends, in fact, forward the link to this post freely, please speak up, talk about it on your blogs.
Email me when you have your pockets completed and I will tell you where to send them.
Deadline: Please send the pockets to me during the week of October 22. Comment on this post and I will put your name in an already growing list of participants. I will let you know where to ship your pockets in a private email.
68 thoughts on “Breast Pockets-with deadline! 1000 pockets in 3 weeks?”
Recovering from another surgery and stumbled on this call. Count me in. The perfect project to relight creative fire.
Melanie, I’ve made four pockets for your wonderful project. After having worked for many years in a university based breast surgery program, I know first hand the impact that body altering surgery can have on a person and I salute the brave “flatties” who have chosen not to have reconstructive surgery.
Count me in for 2 pockets. This is a fantastic idea!
I have made three for your cause. Hoping these help! please let me know where to send. I am a member of Fiber Art Traders with NJ Brevik. thank you
I have made three for this cause. I am a member of Fiber Art Traders with NJ Brevik.
I would be happy to participate in the pocket project. Where should I send the pocket?
let me know where to send the pockets. have too many buds that are flatties.
My mom had a mastectomy in 1975 and is half flat to this day. I’ll make a pocket for her. Where do I send it?
A week before I was scheduled for breast reconstruction surgery, I called my cousin who had been through it several times. She asked me why I was doing it. I said because I had a bilateral mastectomy. “I don’t hear that you really want to do this. Why are you?” Why indeed. So I cancelled the surgery and have been cancer free and flat for 6 years now. Tell me where to send the pockets and I will send you two for me and one for my late mother who only had one mastectomy. I will also send you a picture of my “before” and “after” bra quilts, done with real bras. I’m kinda proud of them.
Thanks for doing this!
Marla in Massachusetts
I’m working on my pocket dedicated to my MIL, Winnie. She had a “radical mastectomy” in the early 70’s, she lived a full life happily flat 🙂
This is very interesting. My cousin’s wife became a flattie…I am going to forward this link to her.
So we just sew a regular pocket and send it to you? I am not at all sure how the pockets work.
And will you send me your address?
I think this is a wonderful way to support all of us flatties. Like many of the women who have chosen not to have reconstruction, I too did not want any more surgery or intrusions into my body so I opted not to have reconstruction. I do wear prosthetics but not always, and I feel fine without them. At least I won’t have to worry about droopy boobs when I am 80!
I just read of this project on Sue Bleiwiss’s blog. I am a ten year survivor of a bilateral mastectomy. I did not have reconstructive surgery, nor have I ever worn a body form. I was so clear about this choice right from the beginning. I have never regretted it. I will have to make my own pockets and get them mailed in. thanks for sharing.
Thanks for all your work for a great project. I learned of it from Jeannie Evans on facebook. Count me in. I am ready to participate. Looking forward to getting your address. Thanks, Nancy
Hi Melanie, I’m finishing up 5 pockets today. Thanks for organizing this – what a wonderful way to show support for other women!
What a great Idea, I would like to send you a couple, can I get the address to mail them?