Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bra Colors and Breast Cancer Awareness: Hmmm...

Breast cancer is a scourge on women's health. About one in eight American women will be diagnosed in their lifetime; and while advances allow more and more to survive, the financial and emotional costs are enormous.

I'm all for raising both awareness and donations to help find better treatments, and ideally a cure. But I wonder about what's going on over at Facebook.

Women are being encouraged to post their bra color as a way of raising awareness. News of this has swept the Internet, and it's poking more folks to talk about it.

All for the good. But, still...

How is telling me the color of your underwear going to get me to help cure breast cancer? Should I tell my Facebook friends whether I wear boxers or briefs, to raise awareness about testicular cancer? Or how about the color of my condom to raise HIV awareness?

It may be cute, but unless you explain it, people don't get it. And at the risk of sounding insensitive, it sounds too cute by half, and I wonder how long that can last. We need more than cute. We need to make people aware of the full impact this has on the lives of women and their loved ones.

One of the best awareness campaigns in recent history has been the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Every panel vividly portrayed a life - a vital human being - lost to the disease. That in itself not only informs the mind, but touches the heart. Then you see the growing number of panels and the lives they represent...

So, how about this. What if everyone on Facebook who knew someone with this disease posted it on their page? You don't have to give their names (and shouldn't unless you have their consent) or even a lengthy bio. Just tell the world: "I thought you should know, my wife/partner/friend/sister/mother/aunt/niece/coworker/boss/next-door-neighbor has/had/died from breast cancer."

Imagine receiving that on Facebook. Imagine receiving several over the course of a few days. Imagine posting it yourself, and seeing the effect multiply.

Oh, and by the way ... I know two women from my church who had breast cancer and remain in remission, and one from school who died from it. Just thought you should know.


  1. My new position is that I don't care if people complain that "Awareness campaigns" breast cancer folks do is ineffective slacktivism.

    I just don't want them to state that and complain that breast cancer gets all the public attention and donations in the same post.

  2. I'm usually of the "every little bit helps" school of thought, so if it raises money or encourages more women to get mammograms, great. But the teacher-type in me still believes that, when you do something like this, try to think: "How can we have the most impact?"