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Met Gala Meets Mastectomy

The red carpet speaks to my High Fashion heart. Creative expression at its finest with the Met Gala as the exemplar event. A sense of shock and wow is not uncommon. However, this year, with the theme of Gilded Glamor, one look left me speechless for an entirely different reason.

Cara Delevingne, a British model turned actress, sauntered onto the red carpet sporting a red satin suit. Her cane accessory and glitzy eye gems sparked interest. She paused as she proceeded to unbutton her jacket, revealing a peak of gold. When she removed it, the paparazzi erupted. Cara posed confidently, bare-breasted. Her petit upper body gilded to accompany the year’s theme. What kept her in the margin of decency were the gold discs which covered her nipple area. I wondered, without nipples, was she still considered topless?

I had bigger questions when I finally viewed my body after my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, such as, how will I accept this radically changed body? It was alarming, to say the least. Hoda Kotb used the word “horrified” when she saw hers. So she must have experienced DIEP Flap for her reconstruction too, where tissue is cut from the abdomen and transplanted to create new breasts.

Cara Delevingne modeling on the Met Gala red carpet.
photo courtesy of PageSix

The slash scar across my gut looked as though I had appeared on The Game of Thrones. The four surgical drains, tubes and medicine ball dangling out of my body could have landed me a role in a remake of Aliens. However, the most distressing change were the two UFO-sized discs where my nipples used to protrude. Remember Close Encounters of the Third Kind? No nipples caused me to feel the most abnormal.

How will I accept this radically changed body?

My absentee nipples were due to my BRCA2 genetic mutation, and impressive family history of various cancers–with breast being high on the list. While it will take a book to share how I ended up having surgery without cancer, I then wondered, why would I keep my nipples if I am decreasing my cancer risk? What I didn’t know is that nothing can prepare you for how your breasts will look or feel after a mastectomy. Unlike Cara’s red carpet moment, my results are permanent.

Just yesterday, my 17 year old daughter asked me if I had something for her to wear instead of a bra for prom. I had no idea what she was talking about until she shared a photo of those sticky silicone nipple covers. “Oh, those!” I laughed, thinking of Cara’s provocative move on the red carpet. I suppose a bright spot is no nipple skins needed for me!

Hopefully, my daughters will only look like me as needed for special occasions; and may they never have to agonize over a decision to alter their breasts because of the BRCA genetic mutation. Fortunately, various organizations are funding research and development of vaccines and other solutions to offer that hope.

During an interview, when asked why she chose this look for the Met Gala red carpet, Cara responded, “I just thought it was a time that we needed to do things a little differently.” Her risk paid off for me personally. For the first time since my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy I felt represented in the world of high fashion.

I agree that it’s time to start doing things differently and that’s what Bloom with BRCA is all about!

Where have you felt represented with your post mastectomy body?