Stella McCartney Made a Powerful Move For Breast Cancer Victims

September 21st 2015

Laura Donovan

British designer Stella McCartney created a compression bra for recovering mastectomy survivors as a tribute to her late mother Linda McCartney, who died at age 56 in the late 1990s of breast cancer. McCartney, who named it the Louise Listening bra after her mom's middle name, is releasing the bra in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. McCartney will be donating bra proceeds to the Hello Beautiful Foundation so the organization can potentially open a breast cancer support center in England. She also aims to give survivors a stylish bra option.

"We want to deliver on all fronts by providing technical support and comfort while women heal, without sacrificing on style, fashion, femininity, and fit," McCartney told Vogue in a new interview. "We wanted to give all of that to the woman who is battling through this."

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breast cancer is the most common cancer in women of all backgrounds as well as the second most common cause of death from cancer among white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women. In 2012, over 41,000 women and 405 men in the United States died of breast cancer.

The stigma surrounding mastectomies.

The Louise Listening bra has a zip in the front so women will have an easy time taking it on and off, and there's no underwire so women can feel comfortable wearing it. McCartney told the Telegraph that she also created the bra to make women more comfortable in a society that often views mastectomies as taboo. Research shows that women who undergo mastectomies are at a higher risk of experiencing anxiety and depression, and many feel ashamed about having to remove their breasts.

"There are so many different emotions attached to the tragic realities of having had a double mastectomy, many cultures are unaccepting, and terrible things happen to women both physically and emotionally," she said. "And we just wanted to make something that allows women undergoing this to have something to be proud of, something with no shame attached. We wanted women to know that you can still be feminine, have your sensuality, have all of the things that are attached to being a woman and that part of your body can still feel beautiful on the outside, as well as the inside.”

McCartney recently launched No Less a Woman, a breast cancer awareness campaign featuring new items for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Linda McCartney Center in the United Kingdom, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and the National Breast Cancer Foundation in Australia.

Mastectomy and breast cancer visibility in media.

Mastectomies can be difficult to talk about, but two years ago, actress and activist Angelina Jolie made a powerful statement by revealing in the New York Times that she had undergone a preventative double mastectomy after learning she had a nearly 90 percent chance of getting breast cancer, due to inheriting a damaged BRCA1 gene. In her New York Times editorial, she explained that she hoped to encourage women to get tested for breast cancer and let them know that she didn't feel like any "less of a woman" for her decision to have a mastectomy.

"I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity," she wrote. "I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options."

Comedian Tig Notaro also discussed her double mastectomy with HuffPost Live:


"More than that, I felt like being a kid because I didn't have reconstructive surgery," Notaro said back in 2012. "Because I had a flat T-shirt, I felt like I was 8 again. It was a lighter place that I got to. It was a weird transition in getting used to it, but once it was completely gone, it was something to get used to. It's been a whole process for me."