Draw a bra and put #BRADay2023 on the map!
Written by guest writer: Luan Lawrenson-Woods
Who Am I?
In 2017, I was diagnosed with invasive pleomorphic lobular breast cancer. Initially I kept my diagnosis private, and only told a few people. Now I write and talk about it nearly every day as an advocate for reconstruction, and to support women in our community, through the Rewritten Me podcast and Breast Recon 101 Instagram Live Q&A series.
I’m also the creator of BRA-va art - a world-first social media campaign that promotes BRA Day (Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, 18 October) - and I need your help!
What is BRA Day?
BRA Day began in Canada to promote education, awareness and access for people who are considering a post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. For me it’s about raising awareness of all reconstruction options – including flat closure – and sharing stories of the real, lived experience of reconstruction to create a community where no one feels alone, ashamed or embarrassed about their surgery and reconstruction.
BRA Day is on the third Wednesday in October, and in 2023 it’s 18th October.
Why promote BRA day?
In 2018 I had a single skin-sparing mastectomy. I was absolutely devastated when I was told I needed a mastectomy. I didn't know anyone who'd had a breast reconstruction and had no idea about the different types of reconstruction.
I had a DIEP flap reconstruction in 2019, when tissue was taken from my tummy to reconstruct my breast. When I heard about my reconstruction options, it gave me hope that I could be 'me' again. I found reconstruction an empowering part of my treatment. And it blew my mind that my body could be ‘upcycled’ to make a new breast!
I micro-blogged about my recovery on Instagram for 100 days (#100DaysDIEP). And that’s when I started to hear from women who’d had a reconstruction but felt they weren’t offered all possible options and had decision regret. I also heard from women who were considering reconstruction and wanted more information. And not just about the surgical side of things, but the reality of what life is like after reconstruction.
I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great if there was something that made people more aware of all the reconstruction options?’ As it turns out there is! And it’s called Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, or BRA Day.
However, I found that not many people know about BRA Day, so I devised BRA-va art to put BRA Day on the map - literally!
What is BRA-va art?
BRA-va art is an Instagram social media campaign that uses exercise to make GPS ‘art’ to promote BRA Day.
You plan a route in a shape that you follow when you exercise - walk, run, cycle, kayak - and track it on Strava (a free GPS exercise app), then share it on Instagram and tag @bravaartofficial #BRADay2023.
It’s as simple as that! But if you’re new to Strava, here’s a bit more about the app and how to set it up and make BRA-va art!
How do you set up Strava?
Strava is a free exercise app that records your activities and tracks your exercise route on a map. It’s easy to set up Strava. You can do it on a desktop, but for BRA-va art you need to install it on your cell/mobile phone that you use with you when you exercise.
- Download the app onto your mobile device
- Open the app and enter your email and a password to sign up
- Enter basic info about yourself - you’re now all good to go!
You can set your account and activity to private if you prefer (privacy controls in settings).
There are other exercise tracking apps that you can use. We use Strava because people us it to make GPS art, which is known as Strava art, but we’re calling it BRA-va art for BRA Day!
How do you make BRA-va art?
When you make BRA-va art for the first time, keep it simple. Don’t worry about making perfect BRA-va art – all BRA-va art is great BRA-va art! It’s about safely having fun to raise awareness of reconstruction.
Firstly, you need to plan your route. Street layouts are good for letters and art with straight lines; open spaces such as beaches and parks are good for curves and ‘freestyle’ art.
To make BRA-va art:
- Open Strava - tap the ‘record’ button
- Select your activity and tap the ‘start’ button
- Start your exercise route and track it on the map
- When you’re finished tap the ‘finish’ button
- Save your activity
- Share your mapped art onto Instagram and tag @bravaartofficial
Congratulations, you’re now a BRA-ista!
You can find more tips on using Strava on their website.
What is a BRA-ista?
A BRA-ista is someone who makes BRA-va art. Last year BRA-istas from Australia, the United Kingdom, USA, Malaysia, Japan and as far away as Norway joined us. They included patients, family, friends, surgeons, allied health professionals and dogs!
BRA-istas walked, hiked, kayaked, roller-bladed, scootered, skate-boarded, skied, sailed, trailed and cartwheeled (yes, cartwheeled!) their art on water, sand, parklands and city-streets.
From boobs to surgery scars, love hearts to guitars, BRA-istas drew art large (60 kms) and small, for loved ones and the broader community, to show their support for those impacted by breast cancer.
Draw a BRA for #BRADay2023
In 2022, this fun and engaging campaign put BRA Day on the map and reached 35,000 people on BRA Day.
For BRA Day 2023 (18 October) we want you to draw a bra and help us reach even more people this year.
From 15th to 21st October we want you to draw a bra while you exercise then share it on Instagram and tag @bravaartofficial.
Inspiration for drawing a bra for BRA-va art:
- Two triangles can look like a bra
- A rectangle looks like a bandeau bra
- The number ‘3’ can be an underwire bra
- A capital ‘B’ looks like a bra
As an added bonus, this year we have some prized challenges!
Rori from Foobs and Fitness has created daily challenges to get people moving the entire week of BRA Day and we’ve partnered with Ana Ono to ‘up the ante’ with fun prizes!
To learn about what each challenge is for the coinciding days and have a chance to win, join this free group on the brand-new Foobs and Fitness app.
Now you know how to make BRA-va art, look at your exercise routes or local street maps, parks and beaches and see if you can draw a bra for BRA Day 2023 and help us support those who, until we have a cure for breast cancer, will sadly come after us.