Saturday, January 9, 2010
Post Your Bra Color As Your Status Update, Change Nothing
Like many Facebook users, I watched this week as my girlfriends' status updates were replaced with one word colors, like "black," "white," and the occasionally more descriptive "purple lace." Unlike many Facebook users, however, I didn't get the invitation -- a chain email from an unknown source -- to post my bra color as my status update. I figured out what was going on soon enough (I'm so web 2.0 savvy) and decided against participating in the meme; it's not that I was embarrassed to tell the world I was wearing a white bra (and still am -- oh Natori sports bra, you are like my second skin, I'm stuck with you and you with me 24/7, doctor's orders) it's that I didn't see the point.
Only today did I learn that the point of this viral experiment was to, in the inelegant words of the invitation, "spread the wings of cancer awareness." Exsqueeze me? Baking powder? How on earth will cryptic status updates, most of which, I'm guessing, said "beige," raise awareness of breast cancer? If the "campaign" did anything, it raised awareness of what color bras my girlfriends were wearing. But mostly, I'm guessing, it just caused confusion. After all, this was a wink-wink-nudge-nudge girls' thing, no boys allowed, and the idea was to get men all intrigued about the colors and then when they figure it out they'll all get tiny erections and it will be like a big internet slumber party where the girls laugh and exploit their sexuality to get guys' attention. And, oh yeah, something about raising breast cancer awareness.
Call me a wet blanket, call me a party pooper, get out your trombone and blow the Debbie Downer wah-wah.(Please note, though, I'm not the first person to ignite the flames of backlash. Lots of others have commented on the inanity of the meme.) But I think this is, as NPR calls it aptly, slacktivism at its most offensive. Because, I hate to be brutal, but I mean, women with breast cancer, especially those who undergo mastectomies and don't opt for reconstruction, don't even wear bras. Because they don't have breasts. And women who die from breast cancer don't wear bras either. Because they are dead. It's like saying, let's raise awareness of hunger by updating your status with what you ate for lunch.
Obviously, I'm particularly impatient with oafish attempts at cutifying breast cancer. I've written before about my hatred of the pink ribbon, and this seems like just another hamfisted attempt to make cancer sexy (pink lace! hot!) while allowing people to feel like they are participating in something while actually doing nothing. As a card-carrying member of the double mastectomy sewing circle, I find the whole charade particularly silly. If I had more guts (I'm not officially "out" on Facebook) I would have updated my status as follows: "White. I'm three-weeks post-mastectomy. TMI? I'd rather tell you about my surgery than hear about your purple lace bra. Which will do more to spread awareness?"
The truth is, no matter how many people are "aware" of breast cancer, it's still going to strike and kill. Awareness is not enough. We need a cure. And that's not going to happen by posting our bra color for all the world to see. I may be cynical, or maybe just cranky (this bra is really very tight... and I wish I could just let the girls have a breather), but I feel like I have a right to comment. After all, what my bra contains -- breasts remade of silicone, breasts sacrificed for health -- is so much more important that what color it is. Oh, I am aware of breast cancer. I may have escaped its specter, but I live everyday with the bargain I struck to avoid it. I don't need status updates to remind me of that.