I just learned that October 13 is “No Bra Day.” Back in 2008, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I might have missed this – Facebook was for kids then, not middle-aged women, and Twitter . . . what the hell was this Twitter thing?
But today, not only is “No Bra Day” a “trending topic” – I actually kind of know what a “trending topic” is. And so, judging by the angry reactions I’m seeing, do many of my breast cancer sisters.
The weird thing about “No Bra Day” is that no one seems to actually be behind it. I can’t find an official website. Go to HuffPo, which you can generally count on to publish anything by anyone, and all of the articles are from years past. Go to Jezebel, because why not, and you’ll find . . . zilch. Slate does come through, in its contrarian way, with a worthy article titled “No bra day is the latest way to do nothing about breast cancer” . . . but while the writer eloquently and righteously (and humorously) demolishes the day’s premise, she doesn’t shed any light on its origins. In fact, she links to one of the few “sources” I had found in my own digging – a UK-based compilation of “awareness days” that refers, confusingly, to July 9 as the day you should set the girls free. An alternative, U.S.-based site (nationaldaycalendar.com) lists No Bra Day as an annual observance on October 13 (and did you know that today is also National Yorkshire Pudding Day?), but acknowledges an inability to locate any information about who started it, when or why. One newspaper article throws up its hands and attributes the day to “the Internet.”
There is a “National No Bra Day” Facebook page, but with just 5,519 “likes” and no updates since October 9 of last year, it doesn’t seem to be driving much of anything. (The “I ♥ Boobies” profile picture is a charming touch, though, and an important reminder that breast cancer is a serious disease . . . just in case you weren’t aware of that.)
So I may be attacking a straw person here, and I doubt that anyone who’s reading this blog is using the #NoBraDay hashtag or going braless for any reason other than comfort, but . . .
Can we please stop this nonsense?
“Awareness” is a nebulous concept in and of itself (that’s another post for another day), but campaigns that rely on sexualized breasts/boobies/hooters/tatas/whatever actually diminish awareness. No one dies from a tumor in their breast. No one dies from losing one or both breasts. The nearly 40,000 women who will die from breast cancer in the U.S. this year will die because their cancer has spread from their breasts/boobies/hooters/tatas/whatever to less fun and sexy organs. You know – bones, liver, lungs, brain. That sort of thing.
A focus on saving breasts (or, worse, “second base”) doesn’t mean much to women who are facing down brain metastases.
And for those of us, like me, who are lucky enough to show “no evidence of disease” (that’s as good as it gets once you’ve been diagnosed with invasive breast cancer), but who do have divots in our breasts, gouged-out armpits, single breasts, no breasts, breasts reconstructed from manmade materials or from other bits of our bodies – it doesn’t make us feel warm and supported. It makes us feel shitty.
So keep your bra on, or take it off. We really don’t care. But do consider taking your credit card out, because guess what? Today is also Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Your donations to breast cancer research (just do your due diligence first!) or to groups that provide concrete support to breast cancer patients (ditto – special shout-out here for the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network) matter a lot more than your lingerie.