No Bra Day self­ies won’t stop can­cer

Sunday Herald - - COMMENT - Vicky Al­lan

FRI­DAY is No Bra Day. For the unini­ti­ated, this is the time of year when some women, though it’s not clear how many, choose to go about their day with­out a bra, then post pic­tures of them­selves in stretchy T-shirts. The day is also sup­ported by men, many of whom take the op­por­tu­nity to tweet las­civ­i­ous com­ments or even cre­ate their own #no­bra­day posts us­ing im­ages filched from semi-porno­graphic sites.

All this is in aid of fur­ther­ing the ob­jec­ti­fi­ca­tion of breasts … sorry, rais­ing breast can­cer aware­ness. It is hard to be­lieve that this so­cial me­dia cam­paign, whose ori­gins around 2011 are murky and mys­te­ri­ous, is growing in pop­u­lar­ity but here it is again. One news­pa­per that seems par­tic­u­larly keen on it is – sur­prise, sur­prise – The Sun, which last week pub­lished an ar­ti­cle say­ing, as if in an­swer to some read­ers’ ques­tions: “When is No Bra Day 2017, what is it and why is it cel­e­brated?”

When The Sun takes an en­thu­si­as­tic in­ter­est in a breast can­cer-re­lated event it’s worth adopt­ing a cir­cum­spect ap­proach. Be­cause, well, The Sun is about ogling breasts, so any­thing to do with breasts, even a dis­ease, is an ex­cuse for more ogling. Re­mem­ber the pa­per’s front page from 2014: Page 3 v Can­cer? Those who saw it will prob­a­bly find it hard to for­get the im­age of a Page 3 model sock­ing it to can­cer. This year, in the run-up to #no­bra­day, we find the news­pa­per at­tempt­ing to give the day a proper his­tory and some cred­i­bil­ity through de­scrib­ing how it was in­spired by Breast Re­con­struc­tion Aware­ness (BRA) day, the cre­ation of a Toronto cos­metic sur­geon – though ac­tu­ally BRA doesn’t ad­ver­tise this spe­cial con­nec­tion on its site.

One of the prob­lems with #no­bra­day is it seems a vague af­fair. “Boo­bies are Fan­tas­tic,” a Face­book page pro­mot­ing the day en­thuses, as it ex­horts women to throw them­selves at a day of “boo­bie free­dom”. It adds: “It is time that the world see what we were blessed with.”

Of course, #no­bra­day isn’t the only breast can­cer cam­paign that ap­pears to be do­ing more to fur­ther the cause of the breast as fetishised, sex­ual

When The Sun takes an en­thu­si­as­tic in­ter­est in a breast can­cer­re­lated event, it’s worth adopt­ing a cir­cum­spect ap­proach

ob­ject than beat can­cer. It be­longs to a long strand of can­cer aware­ness mar­ket­ing that has seen such gems as “I love boo­bies” T-shirts and also the Moon­walk, a kind of bra car­ni­val. Whether breast can­cer aware­ness is about bras, or about ditch­ing them, the link­ing fac­tor is eroti­ci­sa­tion.

Breast can­cer, once ta­boo, is now some­thing we all know about. Or at least we know about pink rib­bons, no bra days, Moon­walk tents and Sun front pages. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent sur­vey, 42 per cent of women don’t know the symp­toms of breast can­cer.

That sug­gests all the pink rib­bons and slo­gans aren’t work­ing. We are so daz­zled by the mar­ket­ing that we miss the mes­sage.

I don’t be­lieve that breast can­cer aware­ness can be in­creased by a #no­bra­day selfie. All that can help is know­ing the ac­tual signs: lumps, in­verted nip­ples, or­ange-peel skin, changes in breast size or shape, al­ter­ation in skin tex­ture, dis­charge. If you want to in­crease aware­ness, pub­lish that. And then get on with your day, whether you’re wear­ing a bra or not.

Pho­to­graph: Lloyd Smith

No Bra Day ... a good cause or an ex­cuse to fetishise breasts?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.