At Curvy Swimwear we are all about representation and diversity. While it’s impossible to showcase every size and shape, we do our best to present our swimsuits on a variety of models.
With samples in sizes 12, 16, and 18, we thought we were killing it with the representation, but late last year we were alerted to a group that we’d been neglecting.
Even though we were offering swimsuits specifically for them, we had not shown our mastectomy collection on women who had experienced breast cancer surgery.
A wonderful woman took the time to contact us and inform us of our omission. Kelly emailed to congratulate us on offering mastectomy swimwear but questioned why we were presenting the styles on models with full, natural breasts.
After some emails back and forth, we committed to doing a photo shoot with women who had undergone a mastectomy. With Covid restrictions and breakouts throwing a spanner in our planning works, it took us months to make good on our promise.
With Kelly’s help we discovered new talent and set about creating a campaign that would thoughtfully represent them.
We are beyond excited to present our mastectomy collection, modelled by our new friends Kelly, Mel, and Tui. Each woman has their own experience with breast cancer, surgery, and recovery, and we are honoured to share their words with you.
“I found out I had breast cancer when I was 35. I'm a mum of 3 kids 15, 8, and 3. Prior to getting my diagnosis I was working part time at a real estate and my husband and I were in the process of selling our house and moving back to Queensland.
I found the lump myself one day getting out of the shower and thought it was a blocked milk duct as I was in the process of weaning my little one! I was going to leave the lump till after the move but decided I better get checked out incase it turned into mastitis. Two weeks later I got the phone call that it was cancer and I needed to see a surgeon asap.”
Kelly was diagnosed with stage 3 Triple Negative Breast Cancer. A week later she had a mastectomy and began chemotherapy once she and her family had settled back in Queensland.
“After one round my hair started to fall out so I shaved it off. I thought I would be ok with shaving my head; I had always wanted to but wasn't game enough. I wasn't ok. I cried. Your hair is not just hair, it’s who you are to an extent.”
Kelly had 11 doses on taxol chemo, 25 rounds of radiation, and was treated with a drug that cost around $65, 000. Her body struggled to get out of bed, she experienced neuropathy in her toes, and radiation caused her skin to burn.
“Since having my mastectomy I find it hard to buy swimwear or clothing. I am so aware of being flat on one side. For a while I felt I wasn’t me and was embarrassed about it but now I know there's nothing to be embarrassed about. I am still a woman. I'm just missing a bit.”
“I first looked at swimwear suited for women who have had a mastectomy a few weeks after surgery. All the models had cleavage and both boobs. I cried and closed it down and just decided I wouldn't go swimming in public. I didn't feel like a real woman.”
It took 12 months for Kelly to look for swimwear again, and again she was met with the same – no flat chested women.
“I got sad, but I also decided to send emails and explain why it hurts and why it would be great to see women in the mastectomy swimwear range that have had that surgery! I explained that I don’t look like that in swimmers, my chest wall looks different now, and how it can make me, and others feel.
Curvy Swimwear Australia was the only company out of the ones I had contacted to say they wanted to change this and make a difference and asked what we can do.”
The result? Representation of post mastectomy women looking and feeling fabulous in stylish swimsuits.
With a tight deadline and some very last minute planning, we were able to secure Mel and Tui to model a range of mastectomy swimwear for our website and campaign. Our gorgeous models have both undergone a double mastectomy and are at different stages of their reconstruction journey.
Gorgeous Tui looking amazing in the sexy Acapulco one shoulder one piece
“My life changed for ever in September 2020 with the breast cancer diagnosis. I had an 11 cm tumour which was hiding in E cup breasts. I had stage 3 breast cancer.”
Tui had a double mastectomy in December 2020 and began chemo the following February. Radiation therapy in June 2021 was the worst time for her as she could hardly walk and felt she “had the body of someone 50 years older”. Mid treatment Tui was given a diagnosis of moderate heart failure, but she didn’t let it get her down.
“Living with a cancer diagnosis and treatment becomes very isolating with a weak immune system. The biggest surprise was menopause. Chemo kills the ovaries triggering harsh menopausal effects my body. I was not ready for that.”
42 year old Tui began studying a social welfare/counselling degree which helped give her the mindset to never give up when all the odds are stacked against you. Having spent only a short time with Tui
“It took a lot of self love and kind self talk to embrace this new person in the mirror. I am not my hair, I am not my breasts and I am not my body…I am a fighter, I am love, I am a mother, I am a student, I have been a business owner, a volunteer for the elderly, I am the family cook and cake baker, I am a kind person , I am a good person and I want to be an inspiration to anyone that needs to read these words.”
Fabulous model Mel looking hot in the Jantzen Sofia one shoulder one piece
Support the Cause
This Mother's Day we are helping to raise funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF). Each year thousands of people lace up their sneakers and hit the streets to participate in the Mother's Day Classic fun run, with much needed funds raised to support the work of NBCF.
From May 1 - 8 Curvy Swimwear are donating $10 per order to NBCF to assist with life-saving breast cancer research. We encourage you to support the cause by donating, joining the Mother's Day Classic and fundraising, or simply treating yourself to a new swimsuit.
If you are looking for post mastectomy swimwear and need a little more advice and inspiration, discover our top 5 best styles and how they can work for you.