Most people associate October with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but according to social media, International No Bra Day is the newest unofficial October “holiday.” On October 13th, women were encouraged to shed their bras and post photos of themselves using the #NoBraDay. The campaign was established in 2012, but no clear motive or purpose is currently associated with the movement. While the use of the hashtag is most popular in North America and Europe, people from across the world have created and shared posts containing #NoBraDay.
This isn’t the first campaign to advocate for women’s right to free their boobs, but this might very well be the first campaign to acknowledge a whole day dedicated to the cause. For 24 hours, women are encouraged to accept their breasts in their most natural state, no matter their size or shape. Men are encouraged to participate in the campaign as well by wearing something purple to show their support.
This “holiday” has received its fair share of backlash from breast cancer awareness advocates and the general public alike. Many people believe that No Bra Day, along with various other breast cancer slogans and campaigns, only serve to sexualize women’s breasts at the expense of patients and survivors. These slogans and campaigns typically contain a similar message: boobs are sexy, and thus, we need to help protect them from cancer. Breast cancer is painted as a horrible occurrence that deprives the rest of the world of a body part that provides sexual gratification to others.
What these campaigns typically don’t highlight is all of the pain and hardship that comes with breast cancer and how all of these things affect cancer patients. Encouraging women to display their boobs to the rest of the world won’t help cure cancer and it will not alleviate the stress that any cancer patients are suffering from. Breast cancer awareness should not be about the sexual characteristics of someone’s body but rather, it should emphasize the struggle of the individual.
For as popular as the hashtag #NoBraDay has become, not everyone on social media agrees with its message. Both men and women have taken to social media to express their disgust with the campaign’s sexualization of the female body and the way it belittles a serious disease.
Instead of telling women to expose their breasts online in the name of breast cancer awareness, social media should be encouraging women to make an appointment to have a mammogram or to complete a self-check up. There are dozens of ways to support breast cancer awareness both directly and indirectly. We as a society simply need to pick the most effective options to support.
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