One day earlier this month, I noticed an onslaught of the #NoBraDay hashtag on twitter. I’m sure it started out with the best intentions– maybe like denim day where I donated $5 to some charity (domestic violence maybe, or even breast cancer?) so that I could wear jeans to work. Perhaps the original intent was that women could forgo wearing a bra for a day if they donated to some worthy charity. But most of what I saw were the tweets of women in the breast cancer community who found such “awareness” rather offensive. I started the day telling someone that it didn’t offend me, but I understood that many women who have gone through breast cancer found #NoBraDay pretty distasteful. But as the day wore on, I could feel my attitude changing. For me, everyday is #NoBraDay, and I have only breast cancer to thank for that. That tasteless hashtag began to mock me, make me feel less like a “normal” woman since I can’t wear a bra. A year ago, I was so excited to ditch my compression bra and buy a pretty new bra for my pretty new breasts. At Nordstrom, I tried on every bra the associate brought me– it must have taken over an hour– and I still left without a bra. It turns out that my new breasts look fine under clothes, but they aren’t the same as natural breasts, so normal bras just don’t fit right. I continued to search– from little boutique lingerie shops to mall shops to big box stores where I could choose my own options and try on every single size. After a few months of disappointment, I gave up. Just last week, I tried on a shirt, but since I could see Vinnie’s masterful work peeking through the white top, I passed. “I’d have to wear a bra,” became a whole new reason not to buy a top I loved.
Last week, the same day I returned that white top to the rack, I came across AnaOno Intimates in an article I found on twitter. It’s a small company started by Dana Donofree, a young breast cancer survivor who was frustrated when her plastic surgeon suggested she just wear sports bras after she’d finished her reconstructive surgeries. Trained at Savannah College of Art and Design and having worked in the fashion industry, Dana decided to take matters into her own hands, and AnaOno Intimates was born to meet the needs of women who had gone through various surgeries for breast cancer. I immediately headed to her website which featured bras that actually look like bras and read her promise that they would really fit me. I was oh-so hopeful, but after trying on what had to be at least a hundred bras, I worried the small/medium/large sizing wouldn’t work for me. I filled out the contact form expressing my concerns, and almost immediately had an email back from Dana. She asked for my dress size and the volume of my implants and then confidently pronounced me a medium. She could tell me the sizes of the models and even other women she’d fitted, complete with details about the volume of their implants. I could tell she knew what she was doing, and so I was giddy as I waited for my package to arrive. I am now the proud owner of the first two bras shown here– the Alejandra (shown in black) and the Rachel (shown in ivory). The Rachel had been my first choice, I eagerly donned it as soon as I opened the package and wore it all day– I haven’t worn a bra all day without being completely irritated since my mastectomy. But I just love the Alejandra– it fits like a dream and reminds me of the pretty push up bras that I used to wear what seems like another lifetime ago. (Don’t let the website fool you, I almost missed the fact that the Alejandra has convertible straps– they can be worn criss crossed as shown or like a standard bra, which I prefer.)
The site also features several bras that I consider sportier– still very pretty but reminiscent of a racerback sports bra. They’re not likely to be my go-to, but for women who have had a lumpectomy or a mastectomy without reconstruction, these bras are genius. The light stretchy fabric and racerback shape makes them a great fit even when there is a substantial size difference between breasts.
I have to admit that the ability to go without a bra is a pretty big perk (couldn’t resist the pun!) most days, but I found the inability to find a decent bra surprising and such a disappointment. I guess for as much as most women complain about it, there is something so inherently feminine about wearing a pretty bra, and I didn’t like that the option had been taken away from me. I’m so glad that now when I want to wear a pretty bra– or even just a plain white tee– I can head confidently to my lingerie drawer, knowing that I have some lovely options.
I know October is almost over, but through the end of the month, you can save 10% on your purchase at AnaOno by entering the code WARRIOR10.