Save the Boobies? Save Second Base? No, Save the Women.
You’ve probably seen the ads.
In one, a woman wearing only a bra sports a pair of pink boxing gloves. Another shows a naked woman clutching her breasts and is superimposed with a watermarked “Expose the Truth.” Or it’s an ad designed to look like a Victoria’s Secret promotion but instead reads, “It’s no secret.”
And then there are some ads that leave very little to the imagination. Take the Save the Boobies campaign, which features close-up shots of—you guessed it—a pair of voluptuous, likely air-brushed and impossible to ignore ta-tas.
Save the Boobies. Save the Ta-Tas.
Wait, who are we saving here? And where is our attention?
Not where it should be.
Sure, these commercials certainly create a stir, but for what purpose? The campaigns tend to focus on the body part—the “boobies”—that we should be saving and not on the disease that impacts hundreds of thousands of women and a few thousand men each year.
Perhaps the worst campaign of them all is the Save Second Base campaign, which, on its face, employs sex to create commotion about the issue. “Donate today, save man’s best friend!” the ad implies.
These images do create more discussion about the terrible disease that can wreck lives and families, but at what cost?
Breast cancer kills women, not boobs.
Focusing solely on women’s external beauty limits the scope of the message and, worse, belittles the pain these women are suffering.
I understand the idea behind the ads: Grab people’s attention.
But women die of all kinds of less “glamorous” cancers each year. Why does this get one so much more attention? Because it’s easier to sell. It’s the same tactic an advertiser would use to sell a car or a convince you to buy a brand of potato chips.
But there’s a key difference here—we’re not trying to “sell” cancer patients. The idea behind breast-cancer awareness campaigns is to convince women to get checked.
Maybe, for a few women, seeing a beautiful model drawing attention toward her chest does prompt them to go ahead and check for odd lumps. But this seems to be the exception, not the rule.
I have a very high propensity for breast cancer, and the disease has pervaded my family tree on both sides. It’s a deeply personal issue to my family and me.
That’s why I’m so bothered by the “Save the Boobies” movement, which has made the breast cancer cause less about lives and more about the tragic notion that a set of breasts might be sacrificed.
We’ve become numb to the reality that breast cancer is still just that—a cancer, and that the second deadliest cancer for women.
So let’s take the message away from the boobs—and while we’re at it, stop objectifying the female models in order to “help” others.
Take the message away from the boobs and shift it to the whole woman—the woman who could die without a cure. And leave celebrities and nearly-naked models out of it. There are other ways to reach young people and potential donors that are just as effective.
Emily Wood is a staff writer with Campus Progress. Follow her on Twitter @em_nicole55.