Sunday, March 28, 2010

Feeling sexy after mastectomy: One lingerie lover's mission

Editor's Note: One of our goals for Loop has been to cover fashion in a way that is relevant to breast cancer women. Amy Bath decided she would not let cancer steal her love of sexy lingerie, so she started her own business, "About the girl."  As she writes, it's not easy opening shop in this economy, but she is determined to succeed.

In September 2007, I awoke from a dream about breast cancer. It seemed so real, that I felt my breasts to check. And, I thought I felt a lump. I went to my doctor and a month later I was lying in a hospital bed after a lumpectomy. That didn’t do the trick, so I had a mastectomy, chemo and radiotherapy.

Before all of this and like so many women, I had a love of beautiful lingerie. Wearing gorgeous underwear made me feel more confident about myself. I’m not a very socially confident person, so every little bit helps, to pinch a well-known slogan.

What a shock I got after surgery. I had to throw away all my beautiful bras, which did nothing for my morale and I have to admit that I shed some tears. Facing the fact that I just had no use for them really hurt. But when I started shopping for mastectomy bras, I was completely dismayed.

It seemed that I was in a time warp lasting an entire generation!  Everything I found seemed to be the sort of thing my grandmother would wear.  I was reminded of the old adage about Ford cars. Any colour you like as long as it’s black. Or white, or beige in the case of mastectomy bras! At the very time I needed to restore some degree of confidence in my appearance, I had nothing, but a disfigured reflection in the mirror and the charity I worked for had just made me redundant! Talk about being kicked when you are down.

My partner, one of the few men I’ve met who isn’t embarrassed to buy nice underwear for me, asked “why don’t you do something about it?” I dismissed it out of hand of course, but the thought kept coming back to me. Why not?

I scoured the world-wide web, in it’s literal sense and eventually found some beautiful French lingerie.  Where else? I also found some maternity lingerie, which could be adapted for mastectomy wear. I didn’t think anyone would be interested in doing business with me and my little plan. However, I guess in a recession, any opportunity gets a fair chance, because before I knew it I had negotiated three deals.

Setting up the company was easy, but after 4 months we had to start over again with the website development. Technology; great when it works!  Which it now does, I’m pleased to say.  I have just added the swimwear range.  Bikinis for breast surgery patients. Imagine, no more boring swimsuits! I’m having a great time. I’m not making any money because I designed the website to look good and Google’s spiders or whatever they’re called don’t seem to think that About the Girl is a worthy cause. But hey, without technology we couldn’t Twitter, so it’s not all bad.

My passion, is to make my own mastectomy lingerie here in the UK.  The quality of products made in China, in my view, just isn’t good enough.  Very soon, I will be designing a new range.  So please, anyone reading this, look at the website and let me know what you would like.  I am only one person.  What I need is lots of feedback from mastectomy patients.  I would love the design of About the Girl products to be driven by the people who are going to wear them.. There is a section called Girl Talk where you can make comments and suggestions and a blog too. I can’t do it without you.

When I was asked to write this blog, I think the angle was that my story might be ‘inspirational.’ I don’t know about that.  But what I do know is that every person I have met who has gone through breast cancer is a hero in my book.  Your courage and determination to beat this dreadful disease is something that continues to inspire me.

If you’re comfortable with who you are, you certainly have my admiration and love.  If you feel restless and feel a need to do something, then perhaps my story can be an inspiration.  After all, if through plain doggedness and determination, I can build a mastectomy lingerie business, just imagine what YOU could do. 

Amy Bath is 43, has two teenage children and lives in a rural area of East Sussex, England. She studied textiles and bra making at De Montfort University and set up aboutthegirl in 2009 after finishing her treatment for breast cancer.
Her web site is .


  1. Amy,
    Congratulations first and foremost for being a survivor. Congrats on following a dream and providing something that so many survivors will appreciate. The choices have been so limited, this is great news. The styles look great! I wish you all the best in your endeavors. Keep up the good work!

  2. You are doing what I also have thought of. I got lymphedema from my mastectomy and it creates a whole new need for clothes to fit correctly. Your a gift to all our BC sisters. Thank you, Sherry

  3. thanks for the nice comments. This article remains popular!

  4. How do i buy that fantastic bikini?