Date of Degree

2-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Eugenia Paulicelli

Subject Categories

Fashion Design | Medicine and Health | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Women's Studies

Keywords

Post-Surgical Bras, Fem Tech, Breast Cancer, Feminist Theory, Foucauldian Theory, Dis/Ability Theory

Abstract

Breast cancer is acknowledged in the United States as a phenomenon. With more than 3 million women either diagnosed or treated for it as of 2019, it is a seminal part of the American healthcare map. However, the market for the kinds of bras and bandages patients have to wear after surgery remains mostly overlooked and outdated. This thesis aims to explore what it means to bandage or dress a breast that has been altered either in combative or cosmetic procedures. Why post-surgical wound care for breasts still mostly looks like a sports bra? How do breast cancer patients rehabilitate and reconcile their bodies, when society expects women to look “whole” and “sexy”? How is gender inequality woven into the interaction between doctors, insurance providers, and patients? Are post-surgical bras a medicalized item? Through an amalgamation of market research with a literature review, this thesis considers the world of post-surgical bras as a social and medical continuum. Within this continuum emerges EZbra, a new fem tech product created by a breast cancer patient. Since EZbra was created to fill a void in the market, its very existence is commentary on the market itself. Therefore, in addition to evaluations of EZbra the product through different theoretical strains, the analysis likewise incorporates interviews with the company heads. Is EZbra itself merely symptomatic of the breast cancer continuum, or is it criticism of the healthcare system at large?

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