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Designing intimate wearables for breast self-awareness

Abstract

Purpose. Exploring the design of intimate wearables to evoke perceptions of a breast self-exam. Methods. We combine wearable technology and smart materials to design a piece of intimate apparel (a bra top). The surface textile design is motivated by simplicity and minimalism in fashion, and a dynamic changing color pattern inspired by breast lobes is made visible when the wearer ‘touches’ designated areas of the top. The touch sensing areas derive from the technique to perform a breast self-exam of using a pattern of up-and-down lines or strips. Results. Preliminary findings suggest that everyday lifestyle items, such as clothing, can contribute to promote wellness and education about hidden and taboo parts of the body. This discrete wearable does not intend to provide step-by-step guidance to a breast self-exam. Instead, it aims to investigate how on-body technology can add to (the decision of) performing wellness routines of intimate care. It shows how a designerly approach could contribute to the shift toward ‘breast self-awareness’ as seen in contemporary health discourse. It suggests that, instead of a methodical step-by-step self-exam, women check their breasts as they go about their everyday routines, such as showering or dressing. Conclusions. We suggest that by combining novel interactions and technologies within intimate apparel, we can offer casual and relaxed interfaces that enable self-care.
Designing intimate wearables for breast self-awareness
Exploring the design of intimate apparel to evoke perceptions of a breast self-exam.
Teresa Almeida
IT University of Copenhagen
Concept developed by Teresa Almeida (teal@itu.dk)
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