Allana Maiden (right) and her mother, Debbie Barrett. (Photo: Courtesy of Allana Maiden)Allana Maiden was 6 years old when her mother, Debbie Barrett, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She grew up watching her mother struggle with the aftermath of chemotherapy and a mastectomy, and saw that even years later, bra shopping was still a disheartening ordeal.
So, inspired by her mother's strength, Maiden started a petition on Change.org, asking Victoria's Secret to make a special "Survivors" bra for women who have beaten breast cancer.
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"Mastectomy bras are currently treated as more of a medical device," Maiden, now 27, told Yahoo! Shine. "Their purpose is to hold the prosthesis in place and nothing more. But women like to buy bras and panties that make them feel feminine and pretty. If there's anyone that deserves this pretty feeling, it's breast cancer survivors."
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Her mom has been cancer-free for 21 years now, but Maiden says that Barrett still has to drive more than an hour to a specialty store to buy ugly and expensive undergarments. "I know this is a minor inconvenience compared to the other things she's been through and she never complains, but it is not fair," Maiden said. "A strong woman like her should be able to feel as beautiful as she is. She should be able to go to a store in her local mall with everyone else and buy a beautiful bra like everyone else."
Barrett loved the idea of a petition. "She thinks it's great," Maiden said. "It is her example that has taught me to give back and help others. She is a great inspiration to me and a wonderful mom."
Maiden's request has resonated with women all over the country. Just two weeks after the petition launched, it's already garnered more than 52,000 signatures, many of them from people who know breast cancer survivors or have dealt with the disease themselves.
"I am a nurse in oncology," wrote Karla Kim of Bakersfield, California. "I see this struggle only multiplied and on a daily basis. I'm also an loyal VS customer. This would really make a change."
"This particular petition touches me the deepest," commented Kimberly Haymen of Peoria, Arizona. "My mother passed away from breast cancer right before my 16th birthday. She first had a single mastectomy which was unsuccessful and led to a double mastectomy. I know the struggles she dealt with. I think this is an absolutely AMAZING idea and I support it 110%!"
A longtime Victoria's Secret shopper herself, Maiden told Yahoo! Shine that she reached out to the brand because it has stores all over the country, and because her own experiences with it have been so positive.
"I love shopping at Victoria's Secret because their staff is so helpful at finding the right fit," she said. "They already know how to measure your body and recommend the right bra."
Victoria's Secret did not immediately respond to Yahoo! Shine's request for comment, but plenty of people say that they would be happy to see the brand start stocking a Survivor bra in their stores.
"Women are still women after a mastectomy and should be able to still feel like women when dressing," commented Adrienne Acosta of Morgan Hill, California. "Most of us women wear lingerie for ourselves, not for others."
On Thursday, January 31, Maiden and her mother, Debbie Barrett, hand delivered more than 118,000 signatures to the Victoria's Secret headquarters in New York before meeting with Tammy Roberts Myers, Vice President of External Communications for Limited Brands, Victoria's Secret's parent company, to share their ideas for a survivor bra.
"Victoria’s Secret is taking very seriously the comments from survivors and their families and friends who want to see Survivor Bras in their stores," Maiden told reporters after the meeting. "I know their heart is in the right place and they want to do the right thing. Making this bra line would be a win for Victoria’s Secret and a win for survivors -- there’s no downside. I think they see that now."
Myers invited the mother and daughter to Limited Brands' headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, to talk to other team members, tour a cancer hospital, and go on a one-on-one shopping trip so marketers can have a better idea of what it's like to shop for a mastectomy-friendly bra.
"I'm so proud of Allana for starting this campaign," Barrett said. "It's been wonderful to see all this support and to have the chance to talk to Victoria's Secret representatives about how much this amazing decision would mean to survivors of breast cancer."
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