Please Tell Me That No Bra Day Thing Is NOT Happening Again This Year

Wrote this about it last year. Still feel the same.

How About a “What Cancer Really Does to Breasts Day”?

Posted on October 13, 2013 by Cancer Curmudgeon

I wasn’t going to write about No Bra Day, because 1) so many other blogs I read have said most of what needs to be said, 2) why should I give it more exposure and attention, and 3) I wrote an overly long, overly wordy piece this summer already, back when there was this other No Bra Day (how many are there?!). The earlier piece, I Don’t Want to See It, is mostly crap I wish I had not written, only the final 5 or so paragraphs are worth reading, and some of the sentiment of those will be repeated here.

I changed my mind because as I started mentally ranting I realized that ignoring it won’t make it go away any more than giving it more attention will (more on this theory, keep reading). It deserves all the outrage that can be had.

Who the hell organizes these No Bra Days? There is no organizational name on that graphic (everyone has seen it I’m sure), so I guess it is just some idea someone passed around on Facebook (sorry, I still cannot have a FB page for personal, non-cancer related reasons, so I’m dim on Facebook things). How the hell does it benefit anyone? Don’t bullshit me and say it raises awareness, especially when the top line of the graphic reads “support breast cancer”. Sounds like the purpose of the day is to increase the incidence of breast cancer—the graphic doesn’t even bother to discuss support for patients in any way.  It’s just another excuse to sexualize a disease, and to be childish and talk about boobies. Again.

What I am saying is divisive and angry; I know and do not care. I am so fond of the quote “just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right,” (Ricky Gervais) and I know that just because this event and the participants offend me, I’m not right. Lots of folks, including breast cancer patients, think all this is just fine, so it is doubtful that this event will cease to exist. But I AM offended and right or wrong, I’m going to gripe about it.

Setting healthy ta-tas “free” doesn’t support this breast cancer patient, again, not that this event even bothers to pretend to support any patients, it is supporting breast cancer, remember? It just reminds me of what cancer did to my breasts, and to other breasts. The scars, the ugliness, the pain and surgery. Need I go on? While I can begrudgingly accept that people who donate or participate in Pink have good hearts even if I hate Pink, I have NO appreciation for anyone involved in No Bra Day. Do NOT expect any gratitude or applause for the participation from me. I’m glad that these women are still healthy, still have breasts unmarred by cancer, but I really do not want to be reminded of what I lost. To those who organized this No Bra Day, I consider you insensitive, thoughtless jerks.

I know this day, the participants, and whoever organized it will get praise from many corners—but a quick scan on Google and other blogs gives evidence of some criticism about this event. I wish there more outrage about it. While I have no hope these days of the Pink machine slowing down, I yearn for more concrete ways to express my extreme dissatisfaction. This No Bra Day is one of the most egregious examples of how a disease has become the plaything of an adolescent, boobies obsessed culture.  If I were rich, I’d buy a million very covering and very supportive bras and throw them—well, somewhere, since there is no physical headquarters for this idiotic nonsense. Maybe I’d just scatter them about a big city street, to stop traffic and get everyone to see how at least this one breast cancer patient really feels. Sure, that would just be me throwing a childish tantrum—but the organizers have proven that they are not emotionally or intellectually adult enough to understand the lengthy, smart essays criticizing the event.

Source: etsy
Source: etsy

Source: etsy

Why doesn’t someone come up with a “What Cancer Really Does to Breasts Day”, gathering and presenting all the pictures of so many bloggers (myself included, I would do this) in various stages of lumpectomy/mastectomy, reconstruction or no reconstruction? There are certainly plenty of said pictures on the internet. I get why established groups or projects cannot do this—with establishment comes the need to “play nice”.  Being a socially awkward, complaining Curmudgeon—in real life and in the blogosphere—means I seem unable to play nice.

I’m sure many would find a “What Cancer Really Does to Breasts Day” objectionable and offensive (see this is where I can use the Gervais quote to my advantage). But here’s the thing: not wearing bras, or even those “tasteful” Pink ads featuring topless, strategically covered, healthy-breasted models for that matter, do nothing to make anyone understand the reality of breast cancer—other than show off what to those who objectify boobies will be “missing” should cancer afflict any of these women. The current socially acceptable image of breast cancer is the bald-headed woman in a pink t-shirt at a run or walk, smiling and being strong. To me it’s like a sick before and after scenario: women before cancer can be sexy and flaunt naked breasts for cancer awareness, women after breast cancer surgery need to keep covered, need to become unsexy soldiers to admire for bravery, but not to be desired.

Seeing what breast cancer is capable of, and what women who’ve had scarring surgery are capable of, seems more logical and helpful to me. On a personal level, it certainly would’ve helped me when I was recovering from surgery and follow-up radiation, wondering what to do. Instead I saw bikini clad women in ta-ta breast cancer ads, and felt horrible, my emotional wound constantly re-opened.

I loathe the battle language in cancer, as I’ve mentioned often enough throughout my posts. What I hate most is that it is used mainly to blame “soldiers” who’ve “lost their battle with cancer” because they “didn’t fight hard enough.” I rarely see war talk applied in terms of a grand battle plan. Why isn’t it applied here? A good general goes into battle prepared, knowing as much about the enemy as possible—their weapons, strategies, the size and the location of the enemy, and what the enemy does to prisoners. Would it not make sense to show what the “enemy”, breast cancer, does to these “soldier” women? How can this proverbial “battle” be fought if everyone is refusing to acknowledge the “battle scars”? Oh right, we’re not supposed to be victims or prisoners, cancer happens to us, but there should be no lasting mental effects, and no one wants to see the scars (as the summertime fracas with Facebook and the surrounding conversations proved)—we either win or lose, and it’s all on us, even if the weapons (medicine) fail the soldiers, no matter how hard we fight. Yes I’m being sarcastic.

This mass delusion of only showing healthy breasts in regards to breast cancer has got to stop. Yes, it is good to think positive, to dream, and to champion the bright side of life—even if a Cancer Curmudgeon just won’t do that. But to completely ignore the reality, to not face the ugliness or pain cancer brings, I assure everyone, it doesn’t make the ugliness or pain cease to exist. Furthermore, wouldn’t seeing pictures of women ALIVE after scarring surgery be, I don’t know, positive? I remember being told on HuffPo this summer that these scars should not be shown. Hope she never has to go through it, hope she never has to see that ugliness in the mirror, hope she never needs to see my example of one who turned an ugly scar into a triumph.

I prefer to know what I’m up against and I’m tired of a socially acceptable conversation about cancer in which everyone covers their eyes and ears, singing “la la la”, like nothing bad ever happens.  Sometimes, ignoring the bad stuff only results in a sucker punch later.

Only three types of people tell the truth: kids, drunk people, and anyone who is pissed the fuck off.” –Richard Pryor

Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed. –Nietzsche

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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.

17 thoughts on “Please Tell Me That No Bra Day Thing Is NOT Happening Again This Year”

  1. I too ranted about this on my blog after some moron said this to me.
    “OK…What if they would do one for Men’s prostate cancer. Do we get to walk around with our pecker hanging out? Before anyone gets upset, if you don’t joke about something or have fun it will kill you. I am epileptic and I am just glad when I have a seizure I don’t wet my pants…lmbo Humor is the best medicine for anything.”
    Since I am living with stage IV breast cancer, you can bet his comment rubbed me the wrong way. Thanks for again voicing your opinion about this insensitive, absolutely humorless day.

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    1. I feel breast cancer, while very important, is getting all the attention. My husband has prostate cancer.. A friend has lung cancer. What do we do to support them? Not much from what I’ve seen!!

      Let’s support all people with all illnesses – not just breast cancer.

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    2. Yes, I recently got into a similar conversation. I think the larger question might be: why must diseases have a gimmick to make them “fun”? Yes, I understand it is because doom and gloom won’t attract attention which leads to dollars, but it still seems strange that diseases need to be “sold”. I saw some sort grab your balls for testicular cancer bit with a celebrity (William Shatner if I remember correctly), but that seems to not have caught on. Yes, disease is scary and people would prefer not to think about it, but it is a reality, like it or not.

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      1. Judy, I agree that other cancers don’t get as much attention as breast cancer. It is wrong. We all know why breast cancer gets so much attention. Our breast obsessed culture fuels the fire.
        I object to any promotion that paints cancer as somehow fun, pretty, and less deadly than it is.

        CC, Take a look at the Checkum Testicular Awareness Campaign – YouTube. Yup, more sexualization using beautiful healthy looking people to bring awareness to a disease.

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  2. I totally agree. Some boobies are to saggy, fat, flabby, etc to go without a bra. Let’s find some other way to support breast cancer.

    Have a happy day 🙂

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  3. Some stupid PR person probably came up with the stupid idea. I saw a blog post about it a while ago and managed to track it back to a PR firm…. There were many comments about it then as well.

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    1. Oh yes, last year I saw quite a few essays fussing about it. I have rejoined Facebook this year, mostly to have page for this blog, but I keep my use of limited, so I’ve only seen one blog post mentioning it. Maybe it is going on and I just have not seen it. Seems like too much to hope for that the No Bra Day thing has disappeared.

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  4. CC,
    The trivializing and sexualizing of a deadly disease continues. I was called short-sighted (on an older post) just the other day because I didn’t see the fun in some of this crap. Thanks for continuing to call out the BS.

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  5. No Bra Day has nothing to do with breast cancer. Like all things Pink, it just piggybacks off the backs of breast cancer in order to throw a big stupid party and raise money for who knows what – certainly not those with cancer. Great post, CC.

    Like

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