Sunday, January 10, 2010

Save the Whaaa?

This week a forward went around facebook asking women to post their bra colors as their status in the name of breast cancer awareness. It has caused quite a ripple on the internets, and many are asking whether or not this sort of thing is effective in raising awareness. Some are even asking whether or not this sort of thing is harmful to women.

One of my fb friends pointed out that this forward has gotten lots of people talking. I was so irritated by it that I wrote, "Self Breast Exams. Mammograms. Know about the Breast Cancer Gene. Life and death in 1 in 8 women. 1 in 8. Seriously. I think this gets a little closer to the heart of breast cancer awareness and prevention than letting you know that my bra is black." She was definitely right. I would have never posted this were it not for this forward. I do wonder whether or not the discussion of breast cancer surrounding the backlash of this forward was a lucky coincidence or if the creator of the forward intended it as such, but regardless, it has gotten people talking.

Anyway, I would like to go on the record regarding my feelings on this forward, as well as some of the breast cancer campaigns that use the catch phrase "Save the Tatas," "Save Second Base," and similar ideas in the bra category. Here is what I posted on in the comment box for their article on the forward:

I was very irritated by the bra color forward on facebook for two reasons. One, I agree that the bra color thing likely did very little to inspire people to educate themselves on breast cancer. While it was successful in getting people talking (e.g. this article and others on whether or not it was an effective idea), I don't think anybody learned something they didn't know before or were reminded of anything specific enough to further breast cancer prevention.

The other thing that bothers me is when breast cancer awareness sexualizes the disease and it's prevention--bras, save the tatas, save second base, etc. At Race for the Cure, I saw a college student wearing a t-shirt that said, "I love them, so I run for them. Save the tatas." While I know that breast cancer survivors' breasts are an important piece of their fight with the disease, I'm guessing it's more about the life and death struggle with a disease that kills too many women. At the end of the day, the tatas are a pretty small part of it. In my opinion, the whole bra color thing falls right into this category.

I have to give credit for my articulation of these thoughts to a friend whose family has more than paid the incredibly unfair price of breast cancer. The more sexual breast cancer awareness slogans have always rubbed me the wrong way, but a conversation with her helped me find words for my thoughts.

Here is the article that I commented on.

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