Rant of the Week – Men Buy Better Breasts

I am on a rant today. I have a student in my Boob Camp this week who has had a mastectomy, and she cannot afford to buy a prosthesis. What’s a prosthesis? Commonly known as a breast form, a breast prosthesis is generally worn by women who have had a mastectomy (a breast removed often due to cancer). Once the breast is removed, the chest wall is more or less flat but sometimes not at all flat with scarring and folds of flesh. The breast form fills the space in a bra cup where the breast used to be. This is a “better” breasts form – a triangular blob of silicone quite unlike a female breast. By the way, this is a brand name prosthesis that costs $400 in Canada. Our government will kick in $200 toward that cost, but only once every few years. Maybe you have insurance to cover the cost but a lot of women don’t.

The prosthesis comes in 10 or 11 “standard sizes” (you know how I hate that term!) which really means it won’t fit anyone very small or very large.  It does not affix to the chest wall – it does not “strap on”, glue on, nor it is permanently attached to the chest (as some misguided folks believe). In fact, as far as a prostheses go, it is the only one that is NOT custom made to the individual. Breast forms can be sold by bra shops, retailers and in drugstores. Can you imagine getting a prosthetic arm or leg “off the shelf” in the drugstore?

OK, so I have established that the forms are stock sizes, but in addition, the shapes and textures are unrealistic and grim. Most of them don’t even show an areola, which would at least show a bit of realism.  

This one does show the areola but it is still more or less triangular. The uneven side is supposed to fill in the side of the breast if the lymph nodes have been removed. 

They are also very heavy. In fact, the manufacturers know this is a problem, so they came up with a lighter version, which they make of silicone that has had air whipped into it (much like whipped butter) You can see the lighter colour on the back side. It is about 30% lighter than the regular version.

If you are sensitive to the heat or you live in a hot climate, you could find them very hot to wear. Once again, the manufacturers got on their thinking caps and came up with these clever additions for better breasts. These raised pebbles allow a bit of breathing room between the chest wall and the form. I guess that’s so the rivers of sweat can run unheeded down your tummy.

…and this pad which is supposed to soak up the moisture and can be changed as necessary.

It seems like the choices are either
1. take it
2. leave it

Recently, I had someone donate a prosthesis to me so I could show the students. It was the nicest one I had ever seen (for a “stock” form). Nice shape, good weight, and a realistic areola. This one could be turned on its side if lymph node coverage was needed. It looked good inside a bra too. What’s the cost, you ask? Under $300 for the pair. Yes, FOR. THE. PAIR!

So where does this form come from? Believe it or not, this is a form sold for cross-dressers who want realistic and better breasts under the clothes they wear. Here’s the thing…men looked at what is available to women and and demanded better breasts!. The irony of this is cruel…men buy better breasts than women who need them. 

They can put a man on the moon, but the breast form companies can’t make a breast that looks like a breast?  I don’t believe it for one minute! C’mon Amoena…step up to the plate and give us a better breast. We deserve it!

10 replies
  1. Cheryl Chamberlain
    Cheryl Chamberlain says:

    I had a mastectomy when I was 29 years old. I was told by an insurance company I was only allowed 1 prothesis in my life time. I have had to use the same one they recommend to change every 4 years for double that time. They become so thin and leak that I have put bandaides on to cover holes. Now that is embarassing! Luckily my husband changed jobs and a new insurance plan started.
    I too have had the prothesis pop out of my bathing suit when I jumped into a pool. I also have had it wear the prothesis is too heavy and bathing suit wasn’t cups, but a tank style so the prothesis shifted and wouldn’t stay put.
    I am guilty also of going around without my prothesis at home. Yes it is hot and heavy! I’ve been told by a bra fitter that one does need to wear something weighted though as your shoulders need to be balanced.
    I crocheted a prothesis several years ago for inside the bathing suit and bras. I didn’t have it weighted. Thank you for your tutorial on how to make a prothesis and the one of how to make pockets for your bras. I have a bra pattern and material and am excited to make my first bra, pocket and all. It is so true how there aren’t very many pretty bras for the younger generation to enjoy.
    I am also tired of all the salespeople who have no idea on how to fit a bra properly (or a prothesis). I’ve heard my husband over the years tell me I’m lopsided, after a salesperson has helped me make a purchase. So happy to hear of the BCD fitting system and fingers crossed I get it right on this bra I’m about to tackle making.

  2. Crabby Olde
    Crabby Olde says:

    I think we all worry way too much about this, although I can see that for young single women, it may be more problematic. I swim three times a week and never wear a prosthesis though I have indeed lost a breast to cancer. I don’t see being one-breasted as shameful or something to be embarrassed about. I do tend to wear clothes that make the missing breast less obvious, and I will ofter wear a scarf for the same purpose. The main reason I do this is because my teenage nephews one told me that women who wander about flaunting their missing breast(s) are bragging about their heroism as cancer survivors. Seriously.

    I have only once worn a fake breast and that was to a wedding. The fake breast crawled out of the bra and ended up around my neck. Since the whole purpose of the bra is to hold the breasts up, this seems a rather natural thing to happen, and I’ve never attempted it again.

    If anyone is ever brave enough to question me about the absence of the one breast, I tell them that I’m an Amazon — a woman warrior — and we cut off one breast so it doesn’t get in charge of our spears, swords, weapon etc.

    • Catherine
      Catherine says:

      I totally agree with you, I am also a survivor, right side mastectomy. I couldn’t wear a prosthesis for the first year due to bad burning during radiation. I started wearing a prosthesis just because of neck issue, my Left breast is an E cup and the unevenness has taken a toll on my neck. Considering having my other breast removed. If it wasn’t for neck and back issues I wouldn’t wear a prosthesis, we are beautiful just the way we are. Wishing you a happy life from one warrior to the next.

  3. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    Beverly, thank you for addressing this. And THANK YOU for adding discussion of mastectomies to your teaching. It is much needed.

  4. Jean L Letarte
    Jean L Letarte says:

    I was an elementary teacher for 36 years. We are clever on the spot problem solvers. I wear a 48A bra. (not easy to find). Well, one day in my morning stupor I forgot my prosthesis. I searched the classroom for an alternative , I found some bird seed and a zip lock bag. I put the seed in the bag and the bag in the pocket of my bra. It looked pretty good and I was set to go for the day. The bag was a bit uncomfortable but you learn to deal it. I went to lunch and on my way back to the classroom I felt something unusual on my legs. I looked down and saw that I was doing a perfect role play of Hansel and Gretel. On the floor behind me was a lovely row of bird seed. I don’t think I ever laughed so hard in my life. So much for the creative teacher.
    I have had several mishaps but took them all in stride. I now live in Florida and when I get home from an errand I am soaked. I refuse to wear the bra around the house or in my yard. After all, it is an amputation. One day I was swimming and the prosthesis got loose in the pool and floated beside. I refuse to let it bother me. I am alive and I love to laugh. I can float better than anyone.
    I have worn a bra under my bathing suit, because without it, it isn’t secure enough for me. A blouson top makes me feel more comfortable.

    I love your prosthesis idea and will definitely use it in the future. I hope I haven’t horrified anyone but have given you a good laugh.
    Only two complaints. Every time I went into a shop to purchase a new bra the sales women have always looked down their nose and me and teach me how to put on a bra. One other thing…. They will only let you stay in the hospital for 24 hours including the surgery. My doctor covered for me and I stayed for two and a half days. Thanks for listening, Keep a smile on your face and laugh. Jean

    • Beverly V. Johnson
      Beverly V. Johnson says:

      Jean, a big HUG and THANK YOU for sharing this. I have experienced women in bra shops treat women mastectomy survivors like they were somehow unclean or contagious! I am so glad you have come through this with your spirit and sense of humour intact!

  5. Beverly Johnson
    Beverly Johnson says:

    Not much has changed in the prosthesis world here, either. It's not that difficult to make a form, as I have proven over and over again in my classes. . Companies with hundreds of thousands of dollars at their disposal for "research and development" can't come up with a better, more realistic shape? I don't believe it!

  6. Annette Siverson
    Annette Siverson says:

    I am not at all surprised! I lived in America and lost my mother to breast cancer. She'd had a mastectomy and refused reconstructive surgery or a prosthesis, mostly because she hated the way they felt and looked! While this was in the early 1990's, I cannot imagine much has changed here. As to the cross-dressers, way to go…..!

  7. Beverly Johnson
    Beverly Johnson says:

    There are actually companies that will make a breast that looks like your own breast, but they are prohibitively expensive (over $3000 CAD) . Unfortunately, a breast form going beyond the basic is considered "frivolous" and "unnecessary" so no insurance company or government will pay for them. Sad but true.

  8. mulliga m
    mulliga m says:

    Why am I not surprised? It would be lovely to get hold of a breast form that looks like a breast. In Sweden where I live you get your breast forms for free luckily and you get them at an orthopedic clinic.
    I look forward meeting you in Stockholm in June at the Shelley class. / Malin Möller


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