I Don’t Care About Your Bra Color, Where You Put Your Purse Or Where You’re Going for 15 Months

by Bill Brenner on January 17, 2012

I’m all for raising awareness. Cancer. Mental Illness. People understand little about these and other maladies. But telling us your bra color isn’t going to help.

In the last couple of years, we’ve seen these awareness campaigns where women throw some cryptic message on their Facebook pages. One time it was listing a color. Another time it was where they put their purse. The message would be something suggestive like this: “I like it on the desk, or in the closet.”

The idea is to have a little fun at the expense of men. Men look at their female friends’ status updates and go nuts wondering what they are talking about. Then, at the end of a day or week, the punchline is revealed.

Here’s an example of one such campaign:

Okay pretty ladies,

It’s that time of year again…support of Breast Cancer Awareness!! So we all remember last year’s game of writing your bra color as your status? Or the way we like to have our handbag handy? Last year, so many people took part that it made national news and the constant updating of status reminded everyone why we’re doing this and helped raise …awareness!! Do NOT tell any males what the statuses mean…keep them guessing!! And please copy and paste (in a message) this to all your female friends! It’s time to confuse the men again (not that it’s really that hard to do ;]) The idea is to choose the month you were born and the day you were born. Pass this on to the GIRLS ONLY and lets see how far it reaches around. The last one about the bra went around all over the world.

Your status should say: “I am going to________________for___________ months.”

The day you were born should be for how many months you are going.

This one was particularly bad because someone’s mom or dad or best friend is going to freak out on learning that their loved one is going away for more than a year. It’s in bad taste.

Here’s the problem with these campaigns in general: It first assumes that men are clueless about breast cancer. If you are the spouse or parent of someone with breast cancer, you’re pretty damn clued in. It also ignores that men can get breast cancer too. One of the more famous male victims is Peter Criss, original drummer in KISS.

All the bra color and purse placement campaigns did was leave men picturing lady friends in their bras or having sex on a desk or in a closet. I can assure you, breast cancer awareness was the last thing on their minds.

As someone who has tried to raise awareness in this blog on the risks and remedies for addictive behavior, mental illness and Crohn’s Disease, I know I’m not going to make anyone smarter by announcing the color of my underwear. In fact, that would just be gross.

To me, raising awareness is about sharing your personal experiences, medical studies and tips for something like minimizing the side effects of chemotherapy (if that’s even possible). When you take people on a personal journey, they walk away with a much better understanding of what they can do to help.

I’ll end with what I think is the best example of this — a book by my friend Penny Morang Richards called “My Breast Cancer Sally.” There’s also a blog called “My Breast Cancer Chronicle.”

There are many other blogs out there that raise awareness for everything from breast cancer to sexual addiction.

Seek out those sources. And keep your bra color to yourselves.

My Breast Cancer Sally

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Alan Shimel January 17, 2012 at 5:27 am

Bill, I have to disagree with you on this one. The simple fact that so many woman get involved in it helps the awareness. As someone who lost a friend and has many friends who suffer from this terrible disease, anything that may make a woman go for a mammography a little earlier or more often is a good thing. I think you are taking a very male chauvinistic point of view here. it is not about acknowledging that men can get breast cancer too. It is not about making men crazy about what bra color a woman wears. It is the fact that they are participating that helps raise the awareness. So lighten up on this one Bill 😉

billbrenner1970 January 17, 2012 at 6:08 am

I don’t consider myself a chauvinistic person, but OK. I do agree that it’s good if this stuff encourages more women to get a mammogram. I’m simply suggesting there’s a better way to raise that awareness. As for lightening up, I did mention myself in my underwear. That’s lighthearted in a “Toxic Avenger” kind of way. 😉

gettingtotheotherside January 20, 2012 at 3:33 am

I agree- I put it up as my status- do I think it’s kind of dumb, yes- do I see the connection as far as how it raises breast cancer awareness- not really… But let’s think about something:

Bill you remembered each campaign. And that it’s about breast cancer awareness. Despite its possibly-twisted mechanism, it’s one of those things where, it’s crazy enough that it just might work! Plus, people just wouldn’t pay as much attention to educational messages, sad to say.

Lori MacVittie February 10, 2012 at 9:41 am

I don’t think we (as in women) are unaware of the risk of breast cancer. We know all about it and we know getting a mammogram is important. It’s not awareness that’s the problem, any more than men being aware of the dangers of prostrate cancer is a problem. The problem is getting women to go have a mammogram (or men a prostrate exam). Both are painful, embarrassing, and costly. And at some level, we (men and women) don’t have these exams because we’re scared to death they might come back positive. We’re rather be blissfully ignorant than depressingly informed.

We don’t need more awareness, we need action. And that is something that can’t be achieved with ribbons, colors, or advertisements. I wish I knew how to encourage that action, but I don’t.

tracifoust January 17, 2012 at 6:01 am

I want my email to pick up “ladies” as a phishing scam word

billbrenner1970 January 17, 2012 at 6:11 am

You can probably program your email settings to do that. It will vaporize emails that are not spam or phishing, but what the hell…

Penny January 17, 2012 at 6:59 am

Thank you Bill, for caring and keeping the positive messages going out, no matter the cause. Whatever it takes to get people to care about themselves and those that they love is what’s important. I agree that the online games are better used for growing cyber crops but respect you other commenter’s thoughts. As to your underwear….! Keep fighting.

Dr Annabelle R Charbit January 17, 2012 at 10:06 am

This is priceless and so so so true. Thank you Bill for telling it how it is!
Annabelle

"Not now, honey. Mommy has to Blog." January 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm

You rock, Bill! You call it like it is.

Peter Hesse January 20, 2012 at 3:26 am

I thought i knew a fair amount about breast cancer, but then I did the 39.3 mile Avon Walk. To walk with survivors and families that weren’t as lucky for 2 days and a bazillion steps taught me more than I ever imagined I’d learn.

mrtrick January 20, 2012 at 3:45 am

I also agree that _IF_ this stuff encouraged more women to get mammograms that it would be worth while. I do not believe it does. I believe it is purely an avenue to allow middle aged women to act like they are still in high school. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against breast cancer awareness or research (why would anyone be against that?), and have participated in raising awareness through events (SGK walks) and fundraising. However, this Facebook thing is just absurd.

Byr February 18, 2012 at 7:48 am

Your ‘belief’ has absolutely nothing in common with reality. Operate with facts.

billbrenner1970 February 18, 2012 at 8:06 am

Explain how it has nothing to do with reality.

aloria June 21, 2012 at 6:51 pm

I don’t get the concept of social network breast cancer campaigns. Anyone who needs to be made aware of the existence of breast cancer or the importance of mammograms and self-checks is likely not getting Internet service to the rock under which she is living.

karen April 27, 2013 at 9:04 am

Just another perspective: it is a fun, harmless, lighthearted way to deal with awareness. And there was the opportunity for all who participated to make donations to Susan B Komen foundation first. So it was a fund raiser, too.

I only wish we would see similar campaigns to get people’s attention and funding focused on less well- funded cancer research programs like lung cancer.

Faith May 8, 2013 at 11:16 am

“Awareness” is really such an idle term. Being aware of something is absolutely pointless. It’s what you do with the information that matters. Participating in or donating to fundraising efforts for whatever cause is being touted, educating yourself on certain conditions so that you can be more sensitive to the needs of those who have them (such as autism, for example), or being proactive about your own preventative health (breast/prostate exams) is what really counts. As others have mentioned, I would be all for anything that promotes those actions, but let’s be honest with ourselves. Does anyone really say to themselves, “Okay, I’ve posted my bra color, now I’m off for a mammogram”? I sincerely doubt it. They’re thinking about a silly game before they go back to crushing candy or raising crops. That aside, I think people are getting burned out on awareness. Nowadays it seems every single day, week, and month has some kind of awareness pinned to it (and most of them overlap at some point), and I for one am getting a little exhausted with being told what to be aware and appreciative of.

Andrew August 12, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I dislike very much that in order for Alan Shimel to disagree with your position, he must refer to you as a “male chauvinist.” If someone is going make such a derogatory claim, I would like very much for him to use reason to back up that claim, not personal attacks. Simply disagreeing with a person’s opinion is not enough justification for openly disparaging their character. Alan, I am sure you will argue that you meant that Bill is only being chauvinistic on this issue…but I call bullshit.

Bill Brenner August 12, 2013 at 1:08 pm

To be fair, Alan is a good friend and I know he doesn’t think I’m chauvinistic in the big picture. He’s simply wrong much of the time. 🙂

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