Friday, April 27, 2012

Boobstagram Breast Cancer "Awareness"

It's depressing what can be justified under the veil of "awareness."

What now?

Women can take pictures of their breasts as part of a French online "awareness" campaign: "Showing your boobs on the web is good, showing them to your doctor is better."

I won't link to the site because it's too disgusting, but it's just a bunch of close ups of breasts. Each photo has "#boobstagram" underneath. I guess you're supposed to use the hashtag "#boobstagram" in your Tweets to, you know, further the "awareness."

My first inclination was to write a rant about the absurdity of this, yet another slactivism campaign, and ask where the substance is. The call to action. Any hint of at least one attainable, measurable objective. Any evidence that this will accomplish a thing. But you know what? I won't. Because it wouldn't matter.

It wouldn't matter if "Boobstagram" had created and posted a petition for more research into the causes of breast cancer and better treatments.

It wouldn't matter if there was a window for donation to help low-income women get support for their screenings and treatments.

It wouldn't matter if pictures of breasts actually motivated women to seek screenings, treatments and more research and for women and men to donate (ludicrous justifications I anticipate will be commented on this post, sadly).


Because objectifying women is not okay. It can never be justified. It doesn't accomplish anything anyway. I'm about to cry because I hate that I have to write this. I hate that people think that they are helping. Or maybe pretending they are helping to make themselves feel better about this.

It would be pretty convenient if raising true awareness and the positive outcomes it creates was that easy. If it didn't require any thought, work, intelligence, sensitivity or goals. I'd say money too, but inevitably someone will pipe up about all the money Komen has raised with their pink, sexualizing stuff.

It's amazing what can be justified with money, even if that money goes to things that lack meaning and profit others more than (or instead of) people affected by cancer.

I hate that sex is used to sell everything now, even "awareness." I hate that our culture can't talk about breasts without sexualizing them. I hate that encouraging women to take measures to preserve their sexuality (our culture's perception of sexuality, I mean) is supposed to be the motivation for "fighting" breast cancer.

It's just an excuse to show pictures of breasts. It's an exercise in narcissism by the women who participate. I think that's what I hate most of all. Women are volunteering to be objectified. They are taking pictures of their breasts and sending them to Boobstagram. And this is supposed to be some sort of act of agency. It's supposed to be empowering. The women are "fighting" for other women. They are "fighting" to end cancer.

Don't they know that this pitiful cancer "awareness" is part of a machine that excuses, encourages and profits from the objectification of women? Why are so many not only tolerant of this, but happy about it? Why do women feel that by participating, they are helping to defeat breast cancer? Why is ignorance so pervasive?

I can't write anymore right now. I can't even make fun of this. I'm just too hurt.


  1. Agree with all you've said here and you've said it beautifully.

  2. Bossy - Thanks very much. I really respect you, so this especially means a lot.

  3. Beautifully written so heartfelt. And for me, eye-opening. I wouldn't have given much thought to it if I had heard of Boobstagram, but I hope I'll look at things more critically, thanks to your post.

  4. Wendy - Thank you very much! I always hope that my blog will inspire critical thinking, so it's nice to have this feedback.

  5. Thank you for writing about this. I saw the Boobstagram and my heart sunk. @SusanKomenGhost tweeted that men could "Jerk off for the cure" using the site. Do the ends justify the means? I agree with you that they do not.

    Here's my take on the boobies brigades.

    Thank you for speaking out!

    --Gayle Sulik

  6. Pink (Gayle) - You are welcome. "Jerk off for the cure" sounds about right. Thanks for sharing you link. Another great blog post.