Monday, January 17, 2011

Do You Heart Boobies?

I heart boobies. And I’m all about promoting Breast Cancer Awareness. Whether it’s Relay for Life, Breast Cancer Awareness walks, or sporting an awesome “I <3 Boobies” bracelet, whatever gets people talking about and educating is awesome. Especially, for teenage girls.
                When I was a teenager, I had no idea that breast self-examinations even existed until I went in for my first gynological appointment when I first started having sex. And guess what? Breast cancer doesn’t have a time limit.
                On Christmas Eve, a friend of the family, who is fourteen, was sporting her “I <3 Boobies” bracelet and complaining to me about how the bracelets keep getting taken away at school. This same fourteen-year-old has a breast self-examination guideline (with pictures!) on her wall. Awesome? Yes! I asked her about the chart and she told me that after seeing the “I <3 Boobies” bracelet, she wanted to know more about breast cancer and in learning about preventative measures, came across the self-examination information. If that’s not awareness then I don’t know what is.
                The real problem with this campaign is not thebracelet’s statement  “possible double entendre” but how much our American society has over-sexualized breasts (it is for this same reason that breast-feeding, especially in public, is so taboo here. How can a woman show that sexual object in public?! *gasp*). The rise in cosmetic surgery of boob jobs shows how much our culture focuses on breasts as physical aspects of sexuality – rather than as a reproductive part that actually does some good work. America tends to be a society so afraid of sexual content that we then over-fetishize parts of our body to compensate. It goes so far that in one of the court cases where two middle school girls sued the school for suspending them, the lawyer asked the girls if “boys had a natural attraction to breasts” and “couldn’t the bracelet mean something else?” (I won’t even touch the heterosexism inherent in these statements). Of course, the girl responded that, in the context of the bracelet, it couldn’t mean anything else other than what it is: part of the Keep a Breast campaign.
                What's also very interesting is how "sex" is used in advertising all of the time - to sell everything from beer to a website helping people make their resumes "more seductive." Yet, this campaign gets attacked. And, yes, my younger brother (who’s eleven) giggles a little bit when he sees someone with the bracelet on. But him seeing the bracelet was also the first opportunity we had to have an open dialogue about breast cancer that he started.
                So, I say, rock the bracelets. If someone is offended by the bracelet or deems it “inappropriate” then that is on them. Those who wear the bracelet are supporting a cause and raising awareness. And maybe, at least a little bit, bringing education, instead of over-sexualization, to the fore-front.


  1. Very good points. I will admit that I have always had some issue with the slogan "Save the Tatas." To me, it just struck me as a disrespectful joke at the expense of people who are suffering. But then a friend of mine who had been an EMT for many years pointed out that sometimes, the best thing you can do for someone is to make them laugh, to make them smile. Putting a bit of humor into something terrible can go a long way toward defeating it. I try to remember that when I get my hackles up over something that seems disrespectful at first.

  2. Carrie, I can see how some people would take the statement that way - but even in that, there's that sentiment of "even negative advertising is still advertising." And your friend makes a great point. And, quite honestly, my initial reaction (when I first saw the bracelet, my younger brother was wearing it), I thought "okay, he just wants to wear something that says 'boobies' on it." But then he surprised me and actually knew what it was all about. I probably should have gone more into this in the blog, but it's also interesting why we think pointing out breasts, or calling attention to them, is always assumed to be sexual. That lawyer I wrote about also asked the girls if they would ever say "boobies" around their grandparents, if it would be disrespectful. "Breasts" are not a "bad" word. It's a body part. I think I'm going to have to write a blog post now about using words like "Penis" and "Breasts" and "Vagina" and how we tend to nick-name them and stray away from using the actual terms. It will be a fun topic to explore. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Glad to be of help! I look forward to reading them =)