It's getting close to the New Year and time for my annual roundup of the breast stories of 2015.
This year my list includes something different. Instead of offering up the most unusual news events in lingerie, lactation, and breast health, I've added some predictions of my own. Do I have psychic abilities? Only time will tell. (Or it could be another career path, not unlike my stand-up comedy.)
Here are the five most compelling breast stories of 2015, together with how they could shape things in the coming year:
1. Underthings for Everyone!!
That is the tagline of Bluestockings Boutique, a brand new on-line intimate apparel store geared to the LGBTQIA+ community. It's indicative of a change in the lingerie retailer game. Plenty of people feel left out of mainstream lingerie fashion marketing (don't get me started on aging out of my bra). There's an enormous gap in this market, and Bluestockings is here to fill it.
It's also mind-boggling that, in 2015, women of color still struggle to find "true" nude bras and hosiery. This year, brands like Nubian Skin began finding their way into mainstream stores and outlets.
Breast cancer patients who have had mastectomies have long been frustrated their lingerie choices. Beautiful bras with pockets for breast forms do exist but don't make their way into department stores or mall shops. This year saw the introduction of Ana Ono Intimates, the first lingerie brand dedicated to meeting the needs of women with reconstructed or unreconstructed breasts.
My Prediction for 2016: This trend has tremendous growth potential. Consumers are anxious to find not just what suits their bodies, but their lifestyles. The Internet makes it possible for brands to target these customers. Other "true" nude brands are in the works. Watch for more post-mastectomy lingerie from Red Fern Lingerie and Sophia Rose Intimates. Groups like Flattopper Pride are adding a needed voice to the post-mastectomy intimates dialogue.
2. The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Fail.
Victoria's Secret 2015 Fashion Show took a big hit in viewership this year. It may have been due to all their pre-show hype that made watching the event redundant. VS represents a big share of the lingerie market. But consumers are beginning to see that there are other choices out there. Start-ups like ThirdLove, AdoreMe, True & Co., Negative Underwear, Naja, peach (and more) are all making moves to snag a piece of the VS pie. Smaller brands are building a customer base through social media. Viral campaigns like #ImNoAngel drew attention to the fact that VS products don't fit every body.
Victoria's Secret Fashion Show 2015 Image via Victoria's Secret
My Prediction for 2016: I'm not sure what it would take to topple Victoria's Secret off its #1 spot. But I predict consumers will reach out to other brands and alternatives in 2016. It's anyone's guess as to which newcomers will still be in business years from now.
3. MET UP is Dying For A Breast Cancer Cure.
Breast cancer patients have reason to be angry and frustrated. Studies continue to show that early detection doesn't save lives, and the number of people dying from this disease hasn't changed much over the past 25 years. Those living with Metastatic Breast Cancer have formed a new group, METUP.org to bring attention to some startling statistics. Their tactics are similar to the ACT UP AIDS activists of the 1980s. MET UP held their first "die-in" in Washington, D.C., this year, and lobbied for change. They are also vocal opponents of sexist and offensive breast cancer awareness campaigns.
My Prediction for 2016: MET UP is just beginning to make waves in the breast cancer community. Look for them to get louder, stronger, and create more noise. As they build coalitions with other groups, there will be greater demand for accountability from breast cancer charities and the monolithic breast cancer industrial complex. Patients and their families deserve answers, not sexualized images or pink ribbons.
4. The Ugly Reality for Mothers Who Breastfeed.
Every year media stories regarding breastfeeding get more outrageous. Celebrity mom Alyssa Milano is only one example of those shamed for posting lactation photos on social media, breastfeeding in public, or getting their precious breastmilk and pumps confiscated by the TSA and airline agents. And all they are doing is what's best for their baby and their health.
My Prediction for 2016: No matter how many laws are enacted to protect breastfeeding rights, or how many women participate in "nurse-ins," the public will continue to be hostile toward a mother who puts a baby to her breast. Perhaps what's needed is a new type of educational public service campaign? Look for more than one blog post from me on this issue in 2016.
5. No, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bras Don't Kill.
Yes, it happened again. This time, it was Gwyneth Paltrow's GOOP that managed to reignite the falsehood that bras cause breast cancer. They don't. Period.
My Prediction for 2016: This story will never die. I'll spend next year refuting this tired old theory whenever it pops up on social media. Guess it's way easier for people to spread untrue rumors via alarming click-bait headlines than to embrace evidenced-based science.
What do you think of this year's breast stories of 2015? Do you have any New Year predictions of your own??
Featured image photo credit Laurent Jean Phillippe