Today on twitter we have yet another trending hashtag that encourages women to reveal their bodies online. I noticed this, was very disturbed by it for a whole raft of reasons (mostly to do with pervy men) and that was it. A little later I found out that #NoBraDay was ostensibly in support of raising awareness of breast cancer and then I couldn’t leave it.
Let’s put aside the convenience of a campaign that gets young women to show off their tits (how the men love that kind of campaign and are, as we speak, typing with one hand). Let’s also leave aside the bullshit that says you cannot criticise this without being labelled a prude (from feminists, no less). What really, really annoyed me was the disgusting insensitivity shown to the very people this ‘campaign’ is supposed to be for: women who are battling or have survived breast cancer.
I have never had breast cancer. I have never had a visible part of my anatomy removed. That doesn’t prevent me from understanding how devastating that must be and how thousands of women baring their beautiful cancer-free breasts can’t possibly help those women feel better about themselves. Especially the ones who have had breast tissue removed.
My aunt died of breast cancer at the age of 49. She had refused to have her breasts removed because she feared that without breasts her husband would leave her. She died when she had a chance to live. Part of what informed her decision is the way society fetishises breasts and makes women feel incomplete, unwomanly and undesirable without them. What this hashtag does is reinforce this toxic idea.
For many breast cancer survivors, wearing a bra is necessary for maintaining a pre-cancer shape and maintaining their former shape is very important to many survivors and for complex reasons. In this light, the trite idea of casting off your bra is deeply insensitive.
Clearly, no one has consulted with either breast cancer survivors or breast cancer charities because if they had, this hashtag would never have happened.
By all means, get your tits out online if that is your thing…but don’t pretend this has anything to do with breast cancer awareness.
Badly done, twitter. Badly done.
I give the last word to Hazel, a survivor…