This summer when we were visiting my family in El Paso I got to meet the boyfriend of one of my cousins. She’s a younger cousin who just graduated from high school. When I met him I immediately noticed the bracelet that he had on that said “i love boobies”. I rolled my eyes and thought how tacky. You’re meeting your girlfriend’s family and you wear something like that. Then after him hanging around all day he brought our attention to the bracelet. He took his arm out and waved it over the dinner table asking us if we had seen these bracelets. He informed us that the bracelet was to support breast cancer. In my head, my response was, “My a**.” A guy in his late teens, early twenties is wearing something with the word boobies on it because he is truly committed to supporting breast cancer awareness. Sure.
We all kind of nodded and went on with dinner. I didn’t think much of this event at the time but recently I have seen an onslaught of inappropriate breast cancer awareness things that I just have to say something about.
I am completely in support of breast cancer awareness and I do applaud how breast cancer awareness propaganda has really made it trendy. You can buy almost any item — jewelry, clothes, mixing bowls, coffee mugs, stamps, police cars — in pink to support breast cancer research. This fundraising is smart because people are going to buy these items anyways so why not throw a few extra dollars to breast cancer research. I mean, come on, even the NFL had breast cancer awareness day where these huge, athletic men wore neon pink shoes in support of the cause.
What I do not like is the further objectification of women in the name of wanting to campaign for breast cancer awareness. I think it is a fair assumption to make that if you were to pick one part of a woman to really objectify it would be her breasts. Our society is obsessed with breasts. Are they too big? Are they too small? What kind of bra can I wear to enhance my breasts? How much cleavage can I get away with showing? It is a common experience for women to notice men staring blatantly at their breasts. Of course, because of this, breast cancer survivors who have to have one or both breasts removed really go through a lot of emotions and grief because breasts can be such a big part of a woman’s identity. I don’t want to diminish or take away from what a struggle this is. I’ve known people that have had to deal with this so I am not trying to be flippant about the toughness of the situation.
But, I think that maybe breast cancer awareness groups have hit a wall in how to further promote their cause and are now just grasping for something more shocking.
I was driving behind a car that had one of those yellow “Support Our Troops” ribbon car stickers but instead of a ribbon it was a bra in the shape of the ribbon with the words “Support Our Boobs.”
I agree that women should not accept what society says about breasts (that they are just for attracting men and make women sex objects) and really reclaim the beauty and dignity of the body but selling “i love boobies” bracelets is not doing this. At first I saw high school boys start to wear these bracelets. While some may have personal experience with breast cancer in their family, I guarantee that most teenage boys buy these bracelets because it is sexually suggestive. Then, to make things worse, I now see a lot of high school girls also wearing these bracelets. The response these girls are giving the boys is it is ok to objectify them in this way. There is too much media out there telling our teenage girls that their self-worth is based on their sexiness and whether or not guys find them attractive. I see the effects of this every day. And for a breast cancer awareness group to be adding to this, it’s just so outrageous. This campaign specifically made these bracelets because they wanted to target young people and get them involved in breast cancer awareness. They knew young people would respond because of how sexual the slogan is. How is this ok?
I am positive that if testicular cancer awareness groups started selling bracelets that said “i love balls” and high school girls started wearing them, there would be outrage. Or if someone had a car sticker of men’s underpants with the wording “Support Our Balls,” people would be offended.
It is an extremely worthy battle to fight, trying to get the word out about breast cancer awareness. But we can’t win the battle to lose the war against society telling women that they are sex objects that can be reduced to their cup size or…boobies.