Bare your bra for breast cancer?

Forget pink ribbons. Sharing the color of your brassiere on Facebook is the new "awareness-raising" trend

Published January 9, 2010 1:01PM (EST)

I'm not a big fan of the corporatized pink ribbon movement, but it looks far better in comparison to the latest fad in breast cancer activism: posting the color of your bra as a Facebook status update. The idea is that you reveal the hue of your underthings without any explanation or context -- just your name followed by a color. Then you forward the chain letter instructions to all your female Facebook friends. No one seems to know who sent out the original message, but that hasn't stopped hordes of women (and even some men) from playing along.

Revealing your bra to the masses isn't what I call breast cancer activism (it's what I call "my Friday night," woo-hoo! I kid) -- but Andrea Rader, a spokesperson for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, told the Associated Press that whoever is behind this stunt has created "a terrific tool for raising awareness." I understand activists' sense of desperation and their desire to get the message out there by whatever means necessary. Hey, if people don't listen to sober PSAs anymore, then give them breasts; if tarting up cancer will save women's lives, then so be it. But what exactly is the message that's being delivered via these desperate means? 

The Facebook chain letter doesn't address the confusion and controversy over those new mammogram guidelines; in fact it doesn't suggest getting any kind of precautionary measures. The message reads in part: "It will be fun to see how long it takes before the men wonder why the women have a color in their status.....LOL!" Who knew fighting a terminal illness could be so fun -- and flirty. It essentially trumpets: Hey, breast cancer exists and I'm wearing a bra! Or, seeing as the status updates mention nothing about disease, perhaps it translates to the more succinct: Breasts exist! Either which way, it isn't news to the vast majority of us.

Ah, but so it goes with breast cancer activism as of late. First, there was that "Save the Boobs" public service announcement featuring luscious bouncing breasts and then there were those silly clips of famous dudes (who also happen to be boobs) talking about saving women's totally awesome knockers. Both came off as valuing big bazoombas over the life of the human being they're attached to. This bra color movement seems a similarly desperate attempt to get guys to simply give a crap about breast cancer by making it sexy and flirtatious, which I find not only embarrassing to women but insulting to men.

It's no surprise the backlash has already begun. Someone has created a page called "Not Posting The Color of Your Bra" and suggests, "If you wish to support breast cancer awareness or research, stop posting the color of your bra on Facebook. Make a donation to the Canadian Breast Cancer Society, or your local Cancer society, or donate your time if money is not an option for you." One Facebook group recommends posting a fact about breast cancer instead of your bra color, while another simply declares, "We Don't Want To Know Your Bra Color!" I've saved my favorite group for last, though: "Post Penis Size for Prostate Awareness." Well played guys, well played.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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Breast Cancer Broadsheet