It’s breast cancer awareness, not self promotion

Some social media initiatives are doing more harm than good for drawing attention to this serious issue

It’s breast cancer awareness, not self promotion

Story by Danielle Pahl, Multimedia Editor

There have been many internet crazes targeted at increasing breast cancer awareness, the use of Facebook being the most common medium.

In past years, women were asked to post status updates of a number of different things. One year women were asked to post only the color of the bra they were currently wearing. Another asked women to finish the phrase “I like it on the …” in regards to where they tend to set their purse down. One even asked, based on their day and month of birth, where they would be traveling and for how long.

The whole point of these ambiguous status updates are to confuse men, which they state in the description of their Facebook page. So how exactly is this raising awareness? Because the whole ploy seems more like a game.

Last year Lisa Boncheck Adams, who developed breast cancer, argued that this Facebook trend is just that: a game.

In a January 2013 Huffington Post article, Adams said that these internet crazes are actually straying from promoting awareness.

“Breast cancer is not a joke, awareness does not come from sharing the color of your underwear or your marital status,” Adams said. “Even if it ended up on TV, that still would not be educating people about breast cancer they didn’t know before. All it does is show the world that lots of people are willing to post silly things as their status updates.”

I completely agree with Adams. Women learn nothing from participating, the Facebook page does not offer a single piece of information about breast cancer or ways you can donate and they ignore the fact that men can also develop breast cancer. What does traveling or where you place your purse have anything to do with breast cancer anyway?

Just the other day I came across another Facebook page focused on breast cancer awareness and it too made a game out of it. “Bangers to Breast Cancer” founder Michelle Kent asks women to post photos of themselves in their bras as a way of raising awareness, though women can wear t-shirts underneath if they are uncomfortable.

According to Kent, the idea is based on the online drinking craze “NekNominate.” A person nominated to complete this task must film themselves drinking a pint of alcohol in one gulp, post it online and then nominate two people to do the same. In Kent’s version, which she calls, “NipNominate,” a woman must take a photo of herself in her bra, and is required to include a sign that in some way references cancer or Kent’s “Just Giving” page, and then nominate others to participate.

What could possibly go wrong?

As of February 22, the “Bangers to Breast Cancer” Facebook site warned women that their photos were being used on other internet sites and that pictures posted up until the previous day had been deleted. In addition, Kent also included new requirements due to the high responses of photos. She stated that anyone under 16 years old without a t-shirt under her bra, any woman who is not wearing a bra and any photo that does not include a sign referencing the charity will be deleted.

Although this internet craze does include ways of donating, its method of raising awareness and donations is highly unnecessary and has led to improper use of these photos.
In all honesty, what are people really going to be looking at when viewing these photos? Definitely not the signs they are holding. It is also clear by the poses of some of these women, they are utilizing this opportunity as a way to flaunt themselves.

By no means am I suggesting that women should hide their bodies or who they are. If you have the confidence to do this, I certainly support that. But what I do not support is the fact the devastation of breast cancer is being overshadowed by these photos and irrelevant status postings.

Women should be posting statuses of their personal connections to this disease. They should be sharing with the world the stories and battles of people they know who have and are affected by breast cancer, if they are victims themselves and of the people they have lost because of it.

These games don’t fuel awareness. It is the hard truth that does and that is what these groups and organizations do not seem to realize.

Like Adams said, “Breast cancer is not a joke.” So why are we making games of it?