Cancer survivor’s daughter asks Victoria’s Secret to make post-mastectomy bra
In a world that takes so much for granted, there are areas of special needs and interests that once in a while demands our attention. And such calls can come from just about anyone out there. Yet, it often resonates with just what your CSR folk might be waiting to hear.
Increasingly, companies are finding that there are areas that need to be addressed outside their periphery, yet somehow, within it as well. There are grey areas that everyone would like to skip but those grey areas can be both opportunities and challenges at the same time.
Need for ‘Survivor’
We are familiar with the lingerie dreams Victoria’s Secret creates for the global market – we even proudly claim that Sri Lanka manufactures quite a bit of it. Which woman does not like soft, beautifully crafted lingerie that is a dream to hold in your hand and also to wear? Lingerie forms a major area of revenue not only for Victoria’s Secret but also for other leading global brands. The products they market are based on how women perceive themselves to be – the allure lies in knowing what you are wearing underneath.
The same concept can be artfully and relevantly used in special circumstances. In this case, for a breast cancer survivor whose daughter recently went viral requesting Victoria’s Secret to engage in a project that combines the best of CSR with practical lingerie – a post-mastectomy bra.
A woman who has fought breast cancer and has had the opportunity to overcome it knows and understands survival. In the case of Debbie Barrett, who survived breast cancer, her daughter Maiden, who was only six when her mother was diagnosed with cancer, has started a petition on Change.org asking Victoria’s Secret to make a special bra that caters to the needs of breast cancer survivors. And she has also asked – very aptly – that the bra be named ‘Survivor’.
Potential for VS
Having watched her mother struggle with chemotherapy and finding a bra that fits following a mastectomy, Maiden says that it is still a struggle to go shopping for bras. Currently, mastectomy bras are known as a medical device more than a part of a lingerie collection – but many women who agree with Maiden believe that it should change.
Women perceive lingerie to be something close to their hearts – most women buy it for themselves rather than for someone else. Pretty and feminine lingerie define what most women like to feel. Maiden believes that breast cancer survivors also deserve to experience the feeling, even after mastectomy.
The feedback from Maiden’s petition on Change.org, which over 52,000 women had signed already, indicates that there is adequate potential for Victoria’s Secret to think about it.
Petitions on Change.org has succeeded in attracting just the right kind of attention - while giving an opportunity for new and workable ideas, the website also uses the power of the Internet to drive home and score points on a relevant topic.
For Victoria’s Secret, it could be an opportunity to do something meaningful for cancer survivors. While the brand has not officially commented, many women who have signed the petition are of the view that as regular Victoria’s Secret shoppers, they would love to see a Survivor bra on sale. Such a product would also cater to a new market – yet, the CSR value in such a venture can be an added advantage for the brand.
Faith in brand
Although Maiden’s mother has been cancer-free for 21 years, she still has to drive far and search in expensive stores for lingerie that fits. She feels her mother should have the opportunity to shop for lingerie in her local store just like everybody else. She believes that her mother should not feel like she has to wear prosthetics instead of attractive lingerie just because she has had to fight cancer.
Many women who have either known a cancer victim or is a survivor herself, feel they would welcome a Survivor bra in a lingerie collection. Admittedly, for a lingerie company, developing such a specialized bra may involve a considerable amount of work – plus the cost of one. Yet, the concept offers hope of still feeling feminine after mastectomy and that should inspire such an innovation.
As a Victoria’s Secret shopper herself, Maiden says that she thought of reaching out to the brand because of the positive experiences she has had as a shopper. Other women agreed – most were regular shoppers and believed that the brand went out of the way to ensure the customer had the adequate support and just the right lingerie they were looking for.
Opportunities to do different yet meaningful things and develop products that might involve a lot of work but in the end, achieves much, come along for corporates – for Victoria’s Secret, touching the lives of women who survive breast cancer just maybe one such opportunity worth considering.
(Nayomini Weerasooriya, a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)