My mom, her friend, and her friend’s granddaughter came over to my apartment for dinner. In order to make the 11 year-old feel a little more comfortable, I casually asked her, “What does your bracelet say?”
Without blushing, she help up her wrist and replied, “It says, ‘I Love Boobies!’” The world “love” was replaced with a heart icon. I swallowed hard hoping my face wasn’t communicating shock and horror.
“Uh, wow. That’s something,” I croaked.
“Yeah, it’s for breast cancer awareness. Everyone at school wears them, even the boys and teachers.”
Hmm…I know why middle school boys would want to wear a bracelet that says “boobies” on it, but teachers…? What’s going on at that school?
“Where did you get such a bracelet?” asked my mom, clearly disturbed by the situation.
“Oh, my mom got it for me,” she said.
“Your mom got it for you?” my mom repeated loudly.
“Yeah. She wears one, too.” My mom then took the opportunity to share how she had seen a “Save the Ta-Tas!” display at a local gas station. She was shocked and offended.
If I’m honest, it offends me, too.
So I decided to check out I *Heart* Boobies website, which is the youth outreach movement of The Keep a Breast Foundation. According to the site, breast cancer can affect girls as young as 10 years old. Therefore, “I *Heart* Boobies!” has the mission of making the taboo topic of breast cancer a little easier for tweens and teens to talk about. They’ve even been endorsed by Yoplait Yogurt. Good thing I prefer Breyer’s.
Since last month was “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” breasts were front and center (no pun intended). It is wonderful that such an important issue has garnered so much attention and that women are encouraged to get mammograms since early detection is a key to a woman’s chances of survival. But I have a few problems with these shocking public relations messages.
First of all, they’re called “breasts”—not boobies, ta-tas, jugs, or any other slang word. Almost every woman has two of these celluloid blobs and almost every man seems fascinated by them. Slogans like “I *Heart* Boobies!” and “Save the Ta-Tas!” are startling and catchy, which is why they generate enthusiasm. But does dumbing down breast terminology really help? Plus, doesn’t this objectify breasts and in turn, objectify women? I mean, men want to save the breasts so they can “play” with them, right? Isn’t that the *real* message behind these campaigns? As far as I’m concerned, a man who really cares about a women’s breast health will don a pink ribbon, make a donation, or find a more appropriate way to show he cares.
Of course, adults are adults and can make their own choices about saving the tatas and loving boobies, but what about 11 year-olds? There is a whole sixth grade class infested with “Boobie” bracelets…and the teachers wear them, too! Even worse, the girl’s mom bought one for her daughter as well as for herself. Is this teaching girls and boys to respect women and their breasts or to objectify women and their assets?
What do you think?