Em-URGE-ing Voices

Your urgent thoughts, urging action

Save the person not the “boobies”

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October 16, 2015

photo by Rhoda Baer via Wikimedia Commons

Congratulations, America, you’ve successfully sexualized breast cancer. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is something with such phenomenal intentions, the idea of raising money and awareness about something that affects so many lives and tears families apart and hurts so many is truly beautiful and inspiring.

Until we made it about boobs, not the strength those struggling with cancer.

If all you care about is someone being able to keep their breasts so you can further sexualize their body please exit now. Here is the biggest flaw in that: in a lot of cases, breast removal surgeries literally SAVE PEOPLE’S LIVES.

In addition to that the “save the boobs” theme of breast cancer awareness excludes men who have breast cancer from the conversation and does nothing to raise awareness for them.

America has pink-washed October for three decades now and the results have been mixed.

For example, studies show “pinktober” does raise awareness about breast cancer and how many lives it affects which is important. The United States government spends about $1 billion annually on breast cancer treatment. This is so great.

But the rates of women dying of breast cancer is rising with this awareness all over the world. Low-income people still have issues accessing the healthcare they need (and could get at, say, Planned Parenthood centers) but instead of talking about this and how people with breast cancer can access healthcare we have shifted the focus to “boobies.”

Another trend is “No Bra Day,” and it’s yet another way to sexualize a deadly disease. On this day people are encouraged to post a selfie of themselves without a bra on, this does literally nothing for breast cancer. At all. It does not even do a good job at raising awareness it literally only gets you likes on a photo.

In addition to not doing anything to help people access healthcare or teach others about a deadly disease it implies, yet again, people only care about breast cancer for the boobs. 

Here’s the bottom line: I truly believe breast cancer awareness is an empowering, needed movement and people should be activists when it comes to stopping breast cancer. But if you are only doing it for the boobs, you are only sexualizing someone who is already going through so much. People are so much more than their breasts and this disease is so much more than a pink ribbon in October. It’s time we start treating it as such.


photo by Rhoda Baer via Wikimedia Commons

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