Thanks For Sharing, But Your Bra Color Isn't Going To Cure CancerS

If you're a Facebook user, you've no doubt learned by now the bra colors of most of the women in your friends list, who posted said colors as part of a viral campaign allegedly aimed to raise breast cancer awareness.

I'll admit to being a pink ribbon sucker: though I agree with Kate Harding that the "branding" of breast cancer awareness has gone a bit too far, as someone who watched her grandmother die of breast cancer 10 years ago, I still feel a pull to purchase anything claiming to benefit breast cancer research organizations. Logically, I should know better, but it's incredibly difficult (perhaps intentionally so) to break that emotional pull.

Yesterday, however, when I came across the "post your bra color for breast cancer awareness" phenomenon, I immediately became irritated, in that the "awareness" campaign was apparently not connected to any legitimate research or awareness-raising organization, but rather to a random chain email from an unknown source that encouraged women to post their bra colors not only to raise awareness for breast cancer, but to make some sort of puzzle for men to figure out, so that they'd be out of the loop until a woman finally let them know the girls had been posting the colors of their bras:

Some fun is going on....just write the colour of your bra in your status..just the colour, nothing else, and send this on to ONLY girls no men... it will be neat to see if this will spread the wings of cancer awareness. It will be fun to see how long it takes before the men will wonder why all the girls have a color in their status...thanks ladies!

LOL forever? Cancer is so fun and hilarious, you guys. And let's make sure it's something only the ladies can participate in and then educate the men about, because men never get or are affected by breast cancer, right?

Still, the absurdity of the endeavor didn't seem to stop Facebook from congratulating itself on the viral "awareness" campaign: Malorie Lucich of Facebook emailed us yesterday to claim that "the meme is a testament to the power of Facebook to launch viral campaigns to raise awareness for causes, and this is one of the most unique that we've seen." Andrea Rader of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, perhaps the most visible breast cancer awareness foundation in the country, agrees, telling ABC News, "We think it's terrific. It's a terrific example of how little things get started on the Internet and go a long way to raise cancer awareness."

But what good has it really done for breast cancer awareness? Does anyone on Facebook really not know about breast cancer to the point where someone posting "purple lace!" and eight dudes responding, "Ooh, hot, lol" is really doing to anything to really help the cause in any possible way? If anything, the constant sexualization of and cutesy-poo approach to breast cancer pushes people to take it less seriously. As Tracy Clark-Flory of Broadsheet notes: "This bra color movement seems a similarly desperate attempt to get guys to simply give a crap about breast cancer by making it sexy and flirtatious, which I find not only embarrassing to women but insulting to men." Mary Carmichael of Newsweek agrees, noting: "They're not saying a word about cancer. This isn't awareness or education; it's titillation." Jules at Feminazery also agrees, adding that the campaign is "about using a disease that has a devastating impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people as a spurious justification for discussing saucy undies."

Though I doubt anyone really intended to do any harm by posting their bra color yesterday, perhaps feeling that any awareness is good awareness, the way I often feel pulled to buy anything pink, in the name of breast cancer organizations, perhaps it's time we all recognize that awareness alone is not enough; posting your bra color may have temporarily reminded someone that breast cancer exists, but it certainly didn't do anything to ensure that it won't exist forever.

Bra Color Status On Facebook Raises Curiosity, Not Money, In Viral Internet Craze [ABCNews]
Bare Your Bra For Breast Cancer?[Broadsheet]
What Color Is Your Bra? Facebook's Pointless Underwear Protest [Newsweek]
I'm Wearing A Silky Leopard Pushup Number With Apricot Lace Trim And Peepholes [Feminazery] via [The Pursuit Of Harpyness]

Earlier: Breast Cancer Is A Disease, Not A Marketing Opportunity