I confess–I’ve never gotten terribly into the ‘pink for breast cancer awareness’ thing. It’s not that I don’t know of people who’ve had it–because I do–and it’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I’ve never really thought it mattered much. Sports teams will do their ‘go pink’ thing and I’ve thought, once or twice, that ‘that’s nice,’ but the games on Facebook where you type a certain location or something–I’ve never seen the point. This week, however, I’ve seen two different items online–one a picture, one a blog post–that have changed how I view those things. Before, I didn’t really care much one way or the other; after all, I’m aware, I know I’m going to need to get mammograms at a certain age, but I figured maybe the pink did help, so that was nice. Then, however, I saw an image on a high school friend’s FB page. The woman in the picture had her entire chest taped over with pink tape, and on it and the message she was holding, it said to “SAVE THE WOMEN NOT THE BOOBIES.” The message accompanying it was so good that I would have shared it myself, except that I couldn’t edit out the language. I’m reproducing it here; I don’t love the milder language either, but it was the f-word (replaced here with asterisks, I confess) that kept me from sharing it on FB..
“This is honestly the best poster I have found in a while supporting breast cancer awareness. I am honestly so sick of seeing, “set the tatas free”. There is no reason in hell a life threatening, life ruining disease should be sexualized. “Don’t wear a bra day,” go **** yourselves. You’re not saving a pair of tits, you are saving the entire package, mind, body, soul included. Women are not just a pair of breasts. Pisses me off. #sorrynotsorry”
I’d never really thought of it before, but suddenly the emphasis on the breast in breast cancer is really bothering me. Colon cancer is possibly deadlier unless detected really, really early; what sort of awareness campaigns are we seeing about that? Language or not, I found myself emphatically agreeing with Brittany Myers, whoever she is. And while this was percolating in the back of my mind, someone else on my FB feed shared this blog post.
Suddenly the idea of the ‘no bra’ day morphed in my head from “That’s pointless and uncomfortable” to “Seriously? How did I not see the underlying cruelty there”? Because really, what else can you call it? To promote awareness of people losing a body part that is often directly linked to a woman’s sexuality, let’s shove our healthy versions of that body part out there for everyone to see. Let’s make sure we garner some sexual attention in the name of supporting those with breast cancer. Let’s up their self-consciousness multiple notches and make sure they can’t miss the difference between them, the sufferers, and us, their so-called supporters. I know that’s not actually the intent, but does it really matter when the result seems unavoidable?
I shared that blog post on my FB wall, and I really can’t stop wondering how I failed to see the whole issue in this light before. One thing is for certain, though; that image and that message changed the way I look at breast cancer in our society.
You won’t see me going bra-less any time this century.