October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and everywhere you turn, from the supermarket line to the gas station pump, there are pink ribbons and pleas to donate to cancer foundations.
This in itself is not a bad thing. I whole-heartedly agree with raising awareness about breast cancer research and foundations that help those who struggle with or have survived the disease.
But when campaigns have slogans such as “I love Boobies” or “Save the Tatas,” that sends the wrong type of message. A woman is not defined by a single part of her anatomy.
Shouldn’t we be focusing on saving lives, not breasts?
These types of slogans are also sexualizing a disease in which absolutely no part is sexy. Chemotherapy, rehabilitation, mastectomies — these are the realities these women face. What does “No Bra Day” have to do with supporting and acknowledging their hardships?
When companies and campaigns try to make these slogans lewd just so a sleazy man can walk around wearing a shirt about how much he loves a woman’s chest, they are undermining the real battles cancer patients have to face, ones that can have devastating consequences.
Women are objectified every day by men who only see them as parts of a whole — a nice pair of legs, a thin waist or big boobs. These slogans help perpetuate this objectification and directly link a woman’s worth to her breasts.
What does this mean for women who have had their breasts removed? My great aunt survived breast cancer, but only after getting a mastectomy that removed one of her breasts. Now, she wears a prosthetic instead. Does that make her any less of a woman?
These slogans can actually do real damage to the self-esteems of women who have had mastectomies and feel marginalized because of the way society values a part of them they had no choice but to remove.
Plus, breast cancer is a disease that affects men as well as women. These campaigns about saving traditionally female breasts completely ignore the fact that more than 2,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, according to the Susan G. Komen organization. Saving the lives of these men is just as important, and shouldn’t be overlooked because of some stupid slogans.
Ultimately, breast cancer awareness campaigns should revolve around one thing: saving lives. Millions of women and thousands of men struggle with the disease, and their lives should take precedent over a single part of their anatomy.
This year alone it is estimated that breast cancer will kill more than 40,000 women and more than 400 men in the United States. So, this month, every time you think about donating to support this cause, don’t worry about saving “boobies” or “tatas.” Worry about saving these lives.
Deanna Ferrante is a Senior Staff Writer at the Central Florida Future.