We have plenty of problems in America, but currently nothing is tearing our nation asunder like the fight over using naughty phrases about boobies in the fight against breast cancer. The latest battle is taking place in an Arizona high school, where a pink shirt that reads "Feel for lumps — Save your bumps," is driving a wedge between administrators and teachers, parents and students, and most tragically, cheerleaders and their fellow cheerleaders.
According to the Arizona Republic, 56 freshman, JV, and varsity cheerleaders at Gilbert High School had planned to wear the shirts at home football games this month while fundraising for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. However, Principal J. Charles Santa Cruz banned the shirts on the grounds that they're inappropriately sexy. Perhaps I've been jaded by the recent "Saving Second Base" and "Booberday" campaigns and the classic "I (Heart) Boobies" bracelet worn by middle schoolers, but the shirts don't seem all that bad. At least they're being used for fundraising and direct girls to examine their breasts rather than using the vague concept of "awareness" to justify sporting the word "boobs" in school (which is particlarly pointless because it's so much easier to just type out "58008" on a calcuator).
On the other hand, like so many cute and sexy campaigns that ostensibly promote breast cancer research, the "save your bump" message tells women that what's important is saving their sexy breasts, not the woman they're attached to. Plus, the truth is that many women who find a lump wind up losing their breasts to remove the cancer or prevent it from spreading.
The school has received hundreds of emails about the issue, mostly supporting the principal's decision, but be warned: If you decide you're against the shirt you'll find yourself in questionable company. The Arizona Republic reports:
Sharon Slater, president of Family Watch International based in Gilbert, wrote a form e-mail response in support of the principal. She said hundreds of supporters added their names and e-mailed it to the district. She said the organization's goal is to protect the institution of family as the fundamental unit of society.
"I wanted to personally thank you for standing up for what is right despite intense criticism from across the nation," the e-mail reads. "The slogan on the pink T-shirts your cheerleaders wanted to wear is unacceptably suggestive. Your decision to not allow these shirts to be worn by girls representing the school at an official school function was entirely appropriate."
While the paper fails to note this, Family Watch International is a an anti-gay group, and The Advocate has dubbed Gilbert "a new leader in promoting homophobia globally." Great. So now in addition to being the grinch who's questioning the methods high school girls use to raise money for breast cancer research, I'm in league with crazies.
Even the cheerleaders are having trouble resolving the issue amongst themselves. Many girls are criticizing Gayleen Skowronek, the cheer booster-club president, for taking the story to the media. Most were embarassed by the incident and aren't on board with the new plan of selling the t-shirts online for $15 each. The silver lining to the story is that thanks to the increased attention, the girls have collected more than $5,600 for breast cancer research. It's just a shame that when asked why they should support the fight against breast cancer, the number one reason that springs to people's minds is still that breasts are sexy.
Ariz. Cheerleaders' Breast Cancer T-Shirt Splits Community [Arizona Republic]
New Voice In Antigay Efforts [The Advocate]