Guys, My Bra Colour is Pink – Let the Cries of Controversy Begin!

11 01 2010

So this seemingly playful bra colour meme that’s been taking over Facebook for the past few days has, well, proven not to be so playful anymore with many crying out with controversy.

Rethink Breast Cancer's Save the Boobs Campaign

For those of you who don’t know, here’s a brief run down…basically, some time last week a message going out to girls (and some guys) went viral asking us to change our ‘status’ to the colour of our bra as a way of raising breast cancer awareness. I got the message last Thursday from a good friend of mine and yes, I most definitely changed my status. Before long, my entire news feed was filled with a fabulous array of colours. Okay, fantastic! People are participating! I thought it was a fun and clever way to generate buzz on such an important issue but of course, it had to turn sour with some women outraged by the whole concept’s sexual undertones and the supposed objectification of women. Personally, I think that’s a whole load of feminist baloney. If you ask me, this whole line of reasoning only fuels the whole image of the woman as the victim and personally, I’m tired of being portrayed as such because uh, I’m not. And I know a hell of a lot of other women who aren’t either. Have we not reached the point in time where we can quit the whining bullshit? Plus, has the brassiere not been used as a strategic tool in the past to make such important statements? Why not now? Crying foul at announcing one’s bra colour is a) so immature and b) incredibly passé.

This is not to say, of course, that the campaign is a good one. Sure, I think it’s cute, clever, simple and has the potential to accomplish some real concrete changes. But like many other cute, clever, and simple ideas out there, this one is lacking and most certainly not infallible…The problem with the whole bra colour meme for me is not the intimate details that it reveals but the whole campaign’s lack of direction. Yes, people have changed their status but what does that translate to?  Who even started this trend? Because apparently, no one knows. Was it a cancer research organization, a patient/survivor, or just some random individual? And even if we do know, does that matter? How exactly has it raised awareness about breast cancer? And in any case, how would we define and measure “awareness”? What actions are taking place because of this? Are people donating more money to cancer research? Are more women getting mammograms because of it? Have more people researched breast cancer because of this development or has this all just been a silly game of sexual innuendos?

Rebecca Leaman of the Wild Apricot Blog asks the most appropriate question in this case, “Did it work?“. So what the focus should be and the question that people should be asking is ‘what exactly has this whole thing accomplished?’. Yes, awareness is the first and most necessary step but awareness without action is worthless. We need to think impact! And when it comes down to the nitty gritty, I think that’s what really matters….that’s all that really matters.




2 responses

11 01 2010
Rebecca Leaman

Justine, thank you for a thoughtful and thought-provoking contribution to this debate! The more I read blog posts like yours, filled with important questions about how the meme began, evolved, and was responded to , the more I begin to think there’s purpose to it.

Perhaps the “awareness” raised was not as simple and direct as whoever started the meme may have intended – but this more complex conversation may turn out to be even more valuable for nonprofits and good causes in the long run. After all, it’s a sector that’s struggling to find meaningful ways to communicate and create action in a social space that’s still very much Terra Incognita – where the community is global, encompassing many different cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, generations and frames of reference, and in a state of constant rapid evolution.

There’s probably never going to be one “right” way to do these things, but we’re all figuring it out as we go along and doing the best we can – and the feedback of thinking bloggers like you can only help to improve the effectiveness of nonprofits’ online communications.

11 01 2010

Thanks for the comment, Rebecca. I couldn’t agree more with you when you talk about the importance of this experience. There are definitely a lot of lessons to be learned from this and it’s a constant dialogue that can only improve as non-profits continue to explore this newly developing and always changing communication landscape.

Like someone said…unfortunately, I can’t remember who…”There is no failure, only feedback” and this is what this entire meme is proving. It has generated incredible amounts of buzz and feedback. We can take this relatively successful campaign (in terms of its viral appeal) and dissect it further…see what worked, what didn’t, and the potential changes that will make all the difference in the future.

It’s exciting to see where it’ll all lead and how it’ll all develop! Glad to have blogs like yours to see the progress along the way 🙂

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