PhD Candidate in Sociology
Supervisors: Associate Professor Rhonda Shaw and Dr Edgar Rodriguez
Dressing the Post-Surgical Body: An examination of New Zealand women’s experience, perceptions and body image with reconstructive surgery and bra fit
Breast Cancer is the leading cause of death among women in New Zealand. However, cancer mortality rates have substantially decreased over the last decade. Therefore, a greater understanding of the pragmatic needs of mastectomy survivors is required. This research seeks to provide an understanding of how women who have undergone a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery experience their post-surgical bodies, specifically focusing on the perceptions of their breasts, body image, and femininity. Further, this research aims to systematically investigate the meaning bras play in women’s pre and post-surgical lives. For many women who have undergone a mastectomy and breast reconstruction, a bra can be an integral part of the healing process. A bra does not only serves a medical function, but can also be considered a step in the return towards “normalcy” after the trauma of cancer and breast surgery. For these women, inappropriate bra fit and design is not merely an aesthetic inconvenience, but can be physically and psychologically damaging.