Real Breast Cancer Vs What Breast Cancer Ads Tell You

“Save the boobies.” 

“Save the Tatas.” 

“Save the Headlights.”

“Save second base.”

“Don’t wear a bra to support for those with breast cancer.” 

What kind of bullshit is this?

Marketing used to get the vital message has sparked an outcry on social media with patients branding it “insensitive”. Because It Is!

Have you noticed that no other cancer is marketed the way breast cancer is. Not going to lie, I used to fall for these tactics. But then I got breast cancer and my perspective changed. There is a lot to say about this on all different levels, let’s start at the top? 

You know what breast cancer is, right? You know, my boob tried to kill me (and then I had both removed) and, you know, there are a lot of woman who don’t have breasts or may only have one bosom buddy. I’ve got so many better things you could be wasting your money on than employing people to come up with slogans that are better than ‘two is better than one’. Where’s all my ovarian, pancreatic or uterine cancer girls at? OH, sorry, you’re not allowed to come to this party because you’re not pink and fluffy.

Do you see anything pink and fluffy here? I don’t. I simply see a broken, petrified and seriously unwell woman, who doesn’t look sick at all.

Cancer’s bad enough, but now we’re being segregated into groups. You can’t sit with me because I’ve got the glamorous cancer. You’ve got some cancer that they can’t sexualize. Boobs are sexy…not your ovaries, uterus or pancreas.

It doesn’t matter if you’re into itty-bitty-titties, the perfect handful, jumbo fun-bags or low-swinging flapjacks, what matters most is that your kind of selfless gesture will go a long way towards helping our sisters to find a cure. A video from the American Cancer Society argues that women are glad their chest has our undivided attention because they are living proof that breast cancer can be defeated. That’s because the outside world has no clue that once you are a breast cancer patient…you are always a breast patient. You are never in remission…you are NED (no evidence of disease).

Sexually objectifying imagery is reinforced with trivializing language that further sexually objectifies women. There are hundreds of slang words for breasts. How many of them are used in breast cancer awareness campaigns? Jugs, rack, melons, hooters, coconuts, funbags, headlights, cans, knockers, tatas, boobies, second base…and on and on.

We instantly lose our sexuality with doctors always poking, prodding, scanning and injecting our breasts. And there is no reason for us to have any modesty and become robots in this wicked game. The moment you hear those words, “I am sorry you have cancer,” you are trying to save yourself from death. The doctors make appointments to have your breasts removed (amputated is the word that truly describes what is going to happen) and you want us to think that is sexy? What the hell? They are removing, disfiguring and altering our breasts, not ‘saving’ them or making them look pretty.  

We are beautiful, curvy, smart and powerful women – then we take off our breasts and remove all that “makes” us girls and the media expects us to embrace these sexy campaigns that completely sugar coat the situation. How does that even makes sense?? Do you have any idea how all this change affects our (self) body image? We watch and sob over the loss of our breasts like a death. We lose so much from this and gain a new perspective but “sex kitten” is definitely not one. The fact is that the foobies (the reconstructed version of what we once had) have no feeling, nothing!  Which is not sexy!

When someone goes through a sex change they are put through counseling to make sure they can handle the changes about to happen. When you are diagnosed with cancer you are lucky if they even discuss you talking to a professional about what is going on. When you are “finished” and you tell them you are depressed, they wonder why. UMMMM…they just amputated our breasts, you sent us through treatment and, for many, removed uterus/cervix/ovaries, plus our hormones are completely out of wack – and there is no counseling mentioned. Let me tell you, we are not thinking about “saving the boobies,” we are worried about finding ourselves in this mess and saving us. We are trying to live to watch our children and grandchildren grow up. It is degrading to us that it is made sexual.  

Plus, when you make this all about women and sexuality, you forget about another group that gets breast cancer, too: MEN! We have a male population getting breast cancer and we advertise this as women’s disease. Men are diagnosed late in stage and dying yet we make this for the “girls”. I call bullshit on this. We as a society have embarrassed men so much about getting breast cancer that they do not even want to discuss this with their doctors. Wake the frig up people, this is 2019, it is time for a change!  

And then there’s the campaigns like, “Go braless to show support for breast cancer”, UMMMM…excuse me. Let me start with the fact that most of us can not even wear a bra. The scars hurt, we cannot find one that fits, and why bother! Second, how the hell does that show support? A sexy ad with a tiny girl taking her bra off is not breast cancer awareness – it is taking your damn bra off! There is no education in that campaign at all. Did we forget that people die from this? How disrespectful! Did you know this ad comes out every year on the one day Metastatic cancer is highlighted? 

Which brings me to my biggest point! Those with metastatic breast cancer are not saving their boobs, they are dying and trying desperately to save themselves. There will be 516,000 deaths as a result of mets and we think ads like “save the headlights” are helping? No, they are not. They are muddling the voices that need to be heard. The metastatic community needs all of us to stand together and say “SAVE THE PERSON”. Those with metastatic cancer need our voice, they need to be heard.  

Breast cancer is not tied in a pretty pink ribbon. It is filled with anger, pain, side effects. Mixed with love and support from those who care and sometimes death. Sexualized ads have no room in this conversation. We need to stop these ridiculous campaigns and use the best ad we have, US! Show the men and women that had breast cancer, show the pain, the scars, and the truth. Imagine how empowering, validating and real that would be for those who are diagnosed. Maybe if we took the time to remove the sexual connotation of this non-sexual disease and focused on those dying and hurting we could actually get somewhere. 

I refuse to sit back and keep letting society market and sell my cancer as sexy, pretty pink illness when it is nothing like that. When you Google “breast cancer awareness” and get “Save the Tatas”, it is time for a change – a big change. It is the media’s responsibility to make this happen because those of us living in this world just want to save the person, not the boobs. 

2 Comments

  1. Really enjoyed this post! I recently was diagnosed with breast cancer, and like you, realized in that moment how the “save the tatas” car stickers that I’d probably always laughed off before were such BS and damaging to women. I’ve decided to “go flat” following my bilateral mastectomy, because for me, I realized I had not interest in trying to save my cancerous breasts for societies approval. I want to save myself. Thank you so much for sharing this post!

    Like

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