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'Tru Life' breast form with instruction sheet, Michigan, United States, 1967

This breast prosthesis was owned by Mrs Gertrude Shilling, a society figure known for wearing flamboyant hats to the Ascot races. She used it before she became one of the first women in the United Kingdom to receive a breast implant, in 1967. The ‘Tru Life’ breast form was to be worn inside the bra. Made from nylon and plastic, the instructions advise washing with warm water and avoiding exposure to high temperatures. Piercing with a pin could cause the breast form to become slightly deflated as this example shows. S H Camp and Co, who made this object, were one of the first major bra manufacturers and also introduced the idea of cup sizes into bra measurements.

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Glossary: breast form

A breast prosthesis is a silicone breast form that fits in a bra cup to replace a natural breast. It is most often used after a mastectomy or bi-lateral mastectomy, or a wide local excision.

Glossary: prostheses

Artificial body parts, or materials inserted into tissue for functional, cosmetic, or therapeutic effect. Prostheses can be functional (artificial arms and legs), or cosmetic (artificial eye).