Charitable breastfest turns 5

The annual Blogger Boobie-thon raises eyebrows ... and money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Published September 28, 2006 1:30PM (EDT)

Anyone who can't stand the idea of objectification for a good cause, read no further. The Boobie-thon is not for you.

What might arguably be called the most breast-centric of breast cancer fundraisers began in 2002 as a joke among friends. Stay-at-home blogger mom Robyn Pollman decided to raise money for a fellow blogger's Thanksgiving airplane ticket. In exchange for donations, Robyn and her friends offered up shots of their breasts, as well as a video-cam feed of a naked hot tub party. All manner of flame wars ensued, mostly involving women (I wish I were more surprised) bashing other women for being too fat to fundraise.

But the self-exposure paid off. Not only did the friend get to fly out for turkey dinner, grateful gapers kept plying Robyn's Pay Pal account with funds. Realizing she'd struck a shrewdly efficient way to raise money, Robyn turned it into an annual feast of mammaries for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

The rest is Boobie-thon history. Five years later, hundreds of bloggers have bared all sorts of chests (slight and supersized, naked and clad, male as well as female and those transformed by mastectomies), raising over $26,000. This year the event opens on Oct. 1 (thanks to Nerve's Scanner for the tip!) and the Boobie-thon Web site is currently accepting early rack shots now.

The Fifth Annual Blogger Boobie-thon, as it is formally known, is one of those happy Internet phenomena in which the medium bumped into the message by accident. For years, the blatant spectacle of breasts has drawn predictable criticism that the event exploits women, but it seems the pro-boobie camp is winning the culture wars. Every year the fundraiser gets more positive than negative press, and brings in more money than the year before. These days, even venerable institutions like the Breast Cancer Research Foundation have cast off the pale pink euphemisms of their early years and embraced a more direct method. Their logo is now hot pink; their ongoing "Expose the Truth" campaign offers pictures of beautiful, topless women.

By Carol Lloyd

Carol Lloyd is currently at work on a book about the gentrification wars in San Francisco's Mission District.

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