This picture (doing the rounds on FB) is an example of the worst excesses of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It made me feel sick. And there are a lot of upset women on the Breast Cancer charity forums who are as outraged as me.
Look at it. For a start it says, “Support Breast cancer”. What — not support breast cancer research, or breast cancer care, or even breast cancer “survivors” or “victims” (terms I hate)? Almost anything would be better than what it actually says.
Secondly, it shows a slim young woman waving a teensy little bra. For those of you who don’t know, the majority of women with breast cancer will be watching their weight/struggling with their body image. This is not helpful. Nor is the reminder that tiny little bras are not an option for most of us any more. If we wear one at all, it has to carry a prosthesis, or cover our scars.
Even worse, when I clicked on this picture in order to download it and put it up on my blog, I came across messages from men cheering on the women who are not going to wear a bra on the 13th, and reminding them not to forget to publish the photos. So is this about supporting women with breast cancer, or is this about soft porn?? Forgive the failure of my sense of humour. I am no prude. I enjoy rude jokes. But I see NOTHING funny about this. The message I’m getting here is that it’s breasts, not women, who matter. And if that is true, well, I’m stuffed.
And finally, the 13th is the day in Breast Cancer Awareness Month which has been dedicated to those with metastatic cancer – that’s those whose cancer has spread to other parts of the body – a life-limiting condition, not a laughing matter. Those of us who have had even a brush with this disease are holding our breaths and hoping that’s not where we end up. How sad and insensitive that on this particular day, this trivial message should be sent out to distract the unwitting and the thoughtless.
So – please do NOT circulate this picture. If you have already inadvertently and with the best of intention put it up on your FB page, please take it down. Perhaps say sorry. And take a look at the SCAR project instead, perhaps. And wear a bra, or not, as you like, on October 13th. Either way, it won’t help any woman with breast cancer, anywhere.