We Don't Need To Go Braless To Support Breast Cancer Awareness

by Valerie Williams
Image via Shutterstock

Today is National No Bra Day to support breast cancer awareness. October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as anyone who walks through a grocery story or watches an NFL game can attest to. Everything is pink right now and it’s mostly a wonderful thing, as it raises funds and awareness for the purpose of eradicating this insidious disease. However, National No Bra Day is pointless, insensitive and exploitative. There are far more meaningful ways to raise awareness than going braless for a day.

No one seems to know the exact origins of No Bra Day, but it started in 2011 and has gained popularity through social media. At the time of this post, it is the number one trending topic on Twitter and Facebook feeds are full of memes about “setting the tatas free.” On the surface, this seems great, right? It’s kind of funny and keeps breast cancer awareness firmly in the spotlight. However, I’m calling bullshit.

My family has been affected by breast cancer in a very big way. In the last year, my mother and two close relatives have had mastectomies. Fortunately, my mom’s was preventative as the result of a positive BRCA result, but my relatives both had breast cancer, one diagnosed at only 29 years old. When I see No Bra Day trending with its cutesy tone and use of words like “tatas,” I can’t help but wonder how people like my family members with no tatas might feel. Save the Tatas. Big or Small, We Love Them All. Save the Boobies. I Stare Because I Care. Save a Life, Grope Your Wife. I Am A Breast Man. Boobies Make Me Smile. All slogans for breast cancer awareness, and all sexual in nature. Where is Go Commando For Testicular Cancer? A quick search shows we don’t try to make that sexual. Why do we have to make breast cancer “cute” in order to raise awareness? What if there are no boobies left to grope? What of the women who lost the very thing these campaigns are tied to “saving?” Save people, not boobs.

I know what you’re thinking. Any awareness is a good thing. I disagree. Some awareness is just plain salacious, and does nothing good for the cause. By all appearances, No Bra Day doesn’t raise funds or talk about breast cancer in any meaningful way. There are even those who feel it’s a hoax to get women to post pictures of their breasts. It just trends on Twitter and women show their nipples poking through their shirts. To me, it’s nothing more than a slap in the face to the women who no longer have nipples because of this very illness, but hey, it’s awareness, right? Oh, and men. They get breast cancer too and it’s often caught at a much later stage than women since they don’t typically do self-exams, so their survival rates are lower. They don’t even have breasts. But sure, let’s all go braless and giggle about our tatas.

If you want to do something useful for breast cancer awareness, donate funds to a reputable charity. Some breast cancer charities are dubious in nature, as they raise millions with only a small fraction going toward research, so be mindful of where you send your money. Support the people in your life who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and those who’ve survived it. Even if their hair has grown back and they’re disease-free, cancer is still on their minds. It will never leave. And when October rolls around and football players are running around in pink cleats and yogurt containers are covered in pink wrappers and we’re all encouraged to “free-boob” for a day, remember that this disease is far from adorable. It’s not cute and feminine. It’s real and horrible and it takes lives. We need to do a lot more than ditch our bras and make it a trending hashtag to get it to disappear for good.