Victoria's Secret Decides Not to Make Bras for Breast Cancer Survivors

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Allana Maiden
[UPDATE May 20, 2013:] We learned today that Victoria's Secret has decided against creating a special line of bras for breast cancer survivors, rejecting a popular petition by a woman whose mother survived the disease.

A few months ago, it appeared that the petition was making some headway: Victoria's Secret parent company Limited Brands invited petitioner Allana Maiden to meet with company representatives in person to discuss the issue.

But today Change.org passed along a statement from Victoria's Secret saying that it had decided not to make post-mastectomy bras, explaining that it had determined that "fitting and selling mastectomy bras ... is complicated and truly a science." In response, Maiden released a statement thanking Victoria's Secret for researching the issue but expressing disappointment that it had opted not to proceed.

While we wish this story could have had a happy ending, we can't exactly blame Victoria's Secret for its decision -- this is a new line of specialty products that the company has no experience making, and selling them would presumably require special training for its employees. On the other hand, an announcement that they would proceed with a line of "Survivor" bras would have been a marketing coup in the wake of Angelina Jolie's recent announcement that she had undergone a prophylactic double mastectomy to cut her risk of breast cancer.

[Our original story is below.]

A petition on Change.org is calling on Victoria's Secret (LTD) to create a special line of "Survivor" bras for breast cancer survivors who have undergone mastectomies.

Allana Maiden, who launched the petition drive, tells us that she was just 6 years old when her mother, Debbie Barrett, was treated for breast cancer and underwent a single mastectomy.

"She's never said anything or indicated that she's had self-image issues," Maiden tells us. "But I've seen what a struggle it can be to find a bra that fits."

After a mastectomy, many women wear a prosthetic breast, and special post-mastectomy bras have internal pockets that can fit the prosthesis. Other retailers sell such bras, but Maiden notes that they're few and far between in the vicinity of her mother's home in rural Virginia, and that the bras she's ordered online don't fit very well.

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A line of post-mastectomy bras from Victoria's Secret -- Maiden has suggested the moniker "Survivor" -- would make a big difference. As she notes in her petition, Victoria's Secret is known for expert fitting and beautiful designs, both of which she's found lacking in the current selection of post-mastectomy bras. And the retailer's far reach (it boasts more than 1,000 stores) would make such bras more accessible for women in far-flung areas.

We reached out to Victoria's Secret, but they have not yet responded to requests for comment; Maiden likewise says she hasn't heard back from the company. But if the company isn't aware of the petition on the popular grassroots action site, it will be soon: The petition is starting to go viral, growing from 15,000 signatures early Thursday morning to more than 52,000 as of 1 p.m.

While designing and producing a new product doesn't happen overnight, Maiden hopes for her mother's sake that her petition will eventually get the company's attention and ultimately lead to a new offering in their stores.

"After everything else she's been through, buying a bra shouldn't be a huge ordeal," she says.

UPDATE (3:20 p.m.): The petition, which now boasts close to 65,000 signatures, has broken through to Victoria's Secret management. Maiden tells us that she's spoken with a senior vice president at Limited Brands, which owns Victoria's Secret. "I told her about my positive experiences being fitted there and that I want survivors to have that same experience," she says, adding that she explained how post-mastectomy bras typically work.

For now, it sounds like the company will look into the possibility of producing the bras. "She said she was going to share my idea with the right people internally," says Maiden.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.

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