Taking the Taboo Out of Breast Cancer Lingerie
Above: Anita Malia. Photo by Becky Yee.
How do you get people talking about the devastating effects of breast cancer surgery on a woman’s body and sense of self?
Hire a boudoir photographer.
That’s what professional bra fitter Kim “Kimmay” Caldwell did to raise awareness of an oft taboo item that helps women regain their health and confidence — mastectomy lingerie.
This was one of the first times that Caldwell, who has worked in the intimates business since 2005, posed in her underwear. And though she has both of her natural breasts, she chose beautiful post surgical lingerie from Sophia Rose Intimates for the shoot.
Above: Sophia Rose. Photo by Carmen Rubio.
“I knew that wearing this kind of lingerie when I have both of my natural breasts, and even stepping up to talk about post surgical lingerie, could be taboo or controversial. But after seeing the final photos, I knew I was on to something. I knew that by showing people there is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to discussing, wearing, or showing this kind of lingerie, I was lifting the taboo and inviting in conversation and awareness.”
Additionally, mastectomy lingerie is not as common as its mainstream counterparts, and getting boutiques to carry these lines, or the press to talk about it, is an uphill battle.
Above: AnaOno. Photo by Becky Yee.
“Mastectomy or post surgical lingerie is very taboo. People get very uncomfortable when you discuss or show it,” said Kim. “So I thought I would do something to get people talking about – to at least start a conversation.”
She used the images, along with more of her wearing a bra and panty from post surgical lingerie company, AnaOno, in a blog post on her site. After the photos and article went up, Caldwell received comments, emails, and private messages of gratitude from people who had read it. And not just from survivors, but from those in their lives, as well.
One such person thanked her in person. With tears in her eyes, a woman at her co-working space in Astoria, NY said she had read her post and wanted to thank her. Her friend, at age 27, had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was undergoing surgery and chemotherapy.
“She was so grateful that she had a way to help her friend feel loved, beautiful, and cared for,” explained Kim. “She didn’t even know brands like this – with gorgeous intimates and dreamy loungewear – existed for breast cancer patients. She and her friends pooled their funds and gifted her gorgeous lingerie, made especially for her recovery.”
Caldwell continues to spread the word, and has worked on several campaigns with brands to showcase post surgical undergarments since the post went live. She has appeared on Bustle LIVE, written about the First Bra Foundation for The Lingerie Journal, and sought after these kinds of brands to sponsor her trips around the world. She brought AnaOno and their line for breast cancer patients as a sponsor on her “Hurray Vacay” campaign to Mexico, and the brand Anita on a trip to Puerto Rico. “Every time I share a photo or wear one of the items, it opens a door for discussion,” she says. “And talking about something is the first step toward taking away the fear, and the taboo.”
About Hurray Kimmay
Hurray Kimmay is a women’s resource website that helps women “say hurray inside, outside, and underneath”. The site was created by Kim “Kimmay” Caldwell, long time bra fitter and owner of Hurray Media – a lingerie content marketing company that partners with empowering brands to create educational and inspirational content and campaigns. The article and video topics on the Hurray Kimmay website include bra fitting, body love, inner guidance, travel, yoga, dressing from the inside out, and more. Started as a blog with a positive message in the early 2000’s, it’s since evolved into a brand with a powerful message of loving yourself and saying hurray. In addition to online content, Hurray Kimmay also hosts monthly women’s circles and networking events for women in the New York City area.
Kimmay is also the lingerie expert for About.com and a regular contributor to The Lingerie Journal. She has been seen in O Magazine, Brides, Women’s Health, The Martha Stewart Show, Bustle, and more.