With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, attention to the disease is currently in a heightened state. The Huntington Green is adorned in pink, with bows on trees and streamers lining the gazebo. Signs calling attention to Griffin Hospital’s Valley Goes Pink campaign to raise awareness of the disease can be seen all over town.
People are no doubt aware of breast cancer’s existence at this point, but aiming to increase awareness on how to detect and prevent it, and encouraging people to donate to cancer research is not a bad thing.
But there is a huge problem that exists with the attention given to breast cancer awareness and it has nothing to do with increasing public knowledge of the disease or encouraging donations.
Because breasts have become so sexualized in America, a large number of products on the market claiming to provide funds for breast cancer research focus less on the disease and more on the female body parts it affects. T-shirts with slogans such as “Save the tatas,” “Save second base,” among others have become increasingly popular. Facebook status memes claiming to be promoting breast cancer awareness also focus on the sex aspect rather than the potentially deadly illness aspect.
Maybe it’s just me, but statements such as “I like it on the…”, “I’m … weeks and craving…” don’t exactly scream (or even whisper) breast cancer in any way. Even posting your bra color doesn’t lead one to immediately think “Ah yes, breast cancer of course.” I guess it’s a slight step up from the other two with the whole breast connection and all, but even then it’s probably not the first thing that came to mind.
Saving the “tatas” should not be the prime focus of breast cancer, as some of these campaigns would have you think. Breast cancer awareness whether on Facebook, t-shirts or elsewhere should be on the disease itself, preventing it, funding research for it and of course providing support for those who have been or are afflicted with it. There is no reason something as horrible as breast cancer needs to, or should be, sexualized. Breast cancer deserves awareness, research and support but that should not come at the expense of emphasizing the breast over the actual woman who is affected by the disease.