When I get into “disagreements” with people who think it is ok to sexualize breast cancer PSAs, a recurring theme is “sex sells, beautiful breasts are a way to get attention and at least people then become aware. Don’t want to scare people with ugly cancer now do we?” or comments of that nature. I usually agree that one attracts more flies with honey than vinegar and that anything that gets a conversation started is good. For numerous reasons, I disagree that “anything to get the conversation started” in this particular case. And I found it difficult to argue that pretty attractive things best sell the message, anyone born in the age of television should know that!

I changed my mind after seeing a PSA urging the public to refrain from mobile phone use while driving. I saw it a few times before it sank in (thanks, remnants of chemo brain). In this PSA, 3 drivers are either texting or talking on their phones, and all have terrible crashes. There is no gore or pictures of gruesome crash results, but the spot is chilling nonetheless. Nothing attractive to see here!

So why do people I converse with still insist that showing attractive boobies is the best way to communicate the horrors of cancer? The mobile phone while driving demonstration was decidedly unattractive. In fact, I seem to remember in the not so distant past a rather hideous lung cancer PSA featuring people with holes in their throats, oxygen machines, etc. It was decidedly NOT pretty. Of course I do not see that PSA anymore—so I guess it was removed????

I’m not insisting that breast cancer PSAs show ugly surgery scars (I certainly do not wish mine posted all over the place), but I am asking that the “pretty boobies” ads be eliminated. If something beautiful must be shown so we don’t frighten women or young people (which is stupid, once you get cancer, being frightened is a natural state), show women STILL ALIVE. How about that marketing geniuses?

Author: Cancer Curmudgeon

Oct 2010 diagnosed with Stage 3, HER2+ Breast Cancer. Completed treatment Jan 2012. Waaaaaay over pink. Applying punk rock sensibility to how I do cancer.


  1. I agree with you completely about using sex to get the point of breast cancer across. I know that sex sells but it is so insulting to people who have breast cancer and especially those with stage IV.


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