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Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft tries to balance her traditional Mexican-American cultural heritage and Catholic identity, personified by her grandmother La Lupe, with her roles as a young wife and mother.

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October 15th, 2010

i love boobies

 
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boobies-flashThis 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.

 
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The Author : Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft
Vanessa, a Notre Dame grad, loves the Catholic Worker Movement, Catholic education, and overbearing Mexican mothers, which she may or may not be. She lives in Austin with her husband and three daughters and is a freelance writer. You can find Vanessa at v.kraft.im or follow Vanessa on Twitter @laluped.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • William Grogan

    I disagree with the premise of this post. As someone already stated above, we Americans are very prudish with the human body. I would feel no objection whatsoever with a campaign that stated “Save our balls” with respect to testicular cancer. And I check myself at least monthly and plenty of guys do, to answer another post that stated she knows of no guys who do this. We don’t exactly broadcast it. Lighten up people. Where cancer is concerned, and I’ve witnessed plenty of deaths from it, we need all the help we can get!

  • Bruce in Kansas

    Wearing a bracelet or T-shirt referring to breasts is becoming less noteworthy these days. and if the idea is to raise awareness and the effect is to offend (re: the commbox poster that had no idea it had to do with cancer awareness) then a reasonable person would conclude the campaign is not working.

  • JMS

    I was very happy to see this article. I certainly think the cause is worthwhile, but I do not in any way enjoy seeing the word “boobies” and “ta-tas” everywhere. And I am not a fan of the pink either. Take the money spent on changing everything to pink and sent that to breast cancer research. I definitely feel akward with the sexual innuendos used to raise funds for the cause and think it could be done with more respect to women.

  • mrs.marcus

    I saw a teenage guy wearing a bracelet like this on the train on Sunday and I just thought he was wearing some awful suggestive bracelet. I had no idea that it had anything to do with breast cancer. Now I know and I don’t really think it’s the best way to go about it.

  • Gage Blackwood

    Although, “i love man boobs” might be a good bracelet to help break down those walls with male breast cancer.

  • Gage Blackwood

    I don’t think the article is prudish at all. The author didn’t say the campaigns were off because breasts should not be discussed in mixed company or anything like that.

    If the campaign was “Save a Breast!” or “Keep Your Boobies!” even, that would be something different.

    This culture does enough already to promote that a woman’s identity has much to do with her cup size-we don’t need to let a serious topic like breast cancer lead us to further identify women by their breasts.

    I’d go a step further though. Does making everything pink actually help? It’s an honest question. I see pink on everything so much now, I ignore it. Is breast cancer a taboo subject still? NFL players wear pink towels now.

    Testicular cancer, yes, is still taboo and I don’t know of a single man who checks himself.

    “i love boobies” only reinforces society’s idea that a woman is only a woman if she has breasts (and they better be big too).

  • Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft

    I just want to clarify that these “i love boobies” bracelets are not from the Komen Foundation. They are made by The Keep A Breast Foundation.

  • dana

    I thank Vanessa for her astute observations of the objectifying of women masquerading as breast cancer support. As I read your article, my first thought was Susan Komen’s funding of Planned Parenthood. Komen will be the first to defend this grant, by saying that the funds are designated specifically for mobile mammogarm units in poor neighborhoods. The reality, though, is that every dollar PP gets for mobile mammography units is another dollar ava to fund abortions. PP performs over 25% of abortions in the US every year. Also, the fact that 42% of all American women get an abortion and that 1 in 8 American women get breast cancer has to be more than a coincidence. There is a correlation, but I doubt very seriously whether we’ll be hearing about it anytime soon. Abortion is BIG business. Fetal stem cell research continues, despite no evidence of cure. Even the National Institutes of Health admit that ‚Äúany therapies based on the use of embryonic stem cells are still hypothetical and highly experimental.‚Äù Embryonic stem cells, in fact, have a myriad of problems when implanted, including forming tumors and the potential to transmit animal viruses. ESC research is another BIG money maker, so any question of their usefulness will be stifled as “anit-abortion rhetoric.” Sad, but true.

  • Linden Hayes

    You Go Girl! You hit the nail on the head, and have articulated the problem that I have had with this advertising/support for breast cancer campaign. There are young men in their early teens wearing these wristbands to Catholic Elementary Schools. What a great opportunity for the Catholic educators to address the issue of objectification of the body and put the body back into the perspective of dignity and (w)holiness.

  • Lisa

    As a breast cancer survivor, I have mixed emotions about these campaigns. Society places too much importance on a woman’s breasts. I know this brings about awareness, but as mentioned above, it is not about saving boobies, but saving lives.

  • Moloney

    A very small percentage of the Komen Cancer Cure money goes to stem cell research and a tiny amount of that goes to embryonic stem cell research. So, the numbers are negligible.

    There is no medical proof that abortion is a contributing factor of breast cancer. The Cancer Society said there is evidence that it could be a minor cause but they won’t say definitely until they’ve concluded their testing next year.

    Almost everything you said is untrue and probably caused a few people not to donate to a very worthy cancer charity that has done a lot of good for a lot of people.

    I hope you’re comfortable with that.

    Instead of the bracelets I think cancer patients should just name their tumours Tota Tua because under your fuzzy math there’s a chance that they won’t get the treatment they need because of your misinformation.

  • Tota Tua

    the awareness and support of breast cancer is important. HOWEVER, most are not aware that the $ going to Komen Cancer Cure, actually are used for Embryonic Stem Cell research and to support Planned Parenthood. It is ironic that a major contributing factor of breast cancer is abortion.

  • Moloney

    I couldn’t disagree with the author more.

    It’s exactly this type of prudish attitude towards the human body that is costing lives. Testicular and breast cancer (oh, men get boob cancer too!) need to be discussed more and this campaign is an excellent way to make it seem less taboo so that people won’t be embarrassed to do self-examinations and seek help.

    By limiting how people can support a cause, we are hurting the cause.

    I feel sorry for you, Vanessa.

  • Mandy

    Thank God! I have been uncomfortable by these bracelets but couldn’t articulate exactly why. You did a great job. My favorite line was “But we can‚Äôt 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‚Ķboobies.”

  • Gayle

    It was actually where women put their purse, not their bras.

  • Anushree

    Thank you for writing this. My mother underwent surgery for breast cancer so these types of campaigns now hit home. While I appreciate the desire to raise awareness, the point isn’t to “save our boobies” but to “save our lives”. I wonder how women who have had a mastectomy (either prophylactic or for treatment) feel about this particular campaign. Also equally asinine as this slogan is the campaign on facebook and other social networking site where women post on their status updates where they like to keep their bra once they disrobe. Thus, the tacky lines like “I like it on the dining room table”. The intent is to be humorous but all it does is make a serious illness fodder for those with sexual obsessions.

  • Jay H

    “I am positive that if testicular cancer awareness groups started selling bracelets that said ‚Äúi love balls‚Äù and high school girls started wearing them, there would be outrage. Or if someone had a car sticker of men‚Äôs underpants with the wording ‚ÄúSupport Our Balls,‚Äù people would be offended.”

    I suggest the author enter “testicular cancer campaign” into Google and see what she finds. Maybe not exactly what she described, but campaign concepts that are very close.

  • Deacon Tom Evrard

    Vanessa:
    Thank you for your courage in confronting a nasty trend. This is the latest “elephant in the room” syndrome. I believe that it’s appropriate when one encounters this situation, to challenge the person’s motives for wearing such apparel. Otherwise, our silence condones the action. Almost everyone knows of one who has suffered through this devastating illness. Empathy and sensitivity should be the watchwords, not sarcasm and disrespect.

  • Stephanie

    My younger brother who just recently graduated from high school also sports one of these bracelets. I think you raise excellent points, breast cancer awareness isn’t about saving a body part its about saving a person’s life.

    I’ve asked breast cancer survivors what they think of these campaigns however and I get mixed emotions. For the most part they are offended that the seriousness of the situation is taken out of the context, but at the same time are just grateful that money is being donated to the cause.

  • Helen

    I have a buddy from high school who I see very infrequently (maybe once a year). The first time we all got together once we went off to college he wore a shirt that said “Save Second Base”. Everyone got a kick out of it, and it sort of bothered me that no one thought it was weird.

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