You’ve probably seen shirts or wristbands that say “I (heart) boobies!” along with the pink ribbon to signify it raises the awareness of breast cancer. Although it’s meant to raise awareness of a cancer 1-in-8 women are diagnosed with, it also promotes objectification and the oversexualization of breasts.
The Supreme Court ruled it legal for students to wear the “I (heart) boobies!” wristbands after two middle school girls sued their school after receiving an in-school suspension for wearing the bracelets on the school’s Breast Cancer Awareness Day-the bracelets were later banned for lewd manners and sexual double entendre; however, Judge McLaughlin says that the school did not have the right to ban the bracelets since “The bracelets… can reasonably be viewed as speech designed to raise awareness of breast cancer and to reduce stigma associated with openly discussing breast health.”
Although most of the wristbands and shirts’ profits go to breast cancer research and some phrases encourages women to self-detect (by checking) for breast cancer, it has resulted in the biggest normalization of sexual objectification.
What the wristbands are saying is “We should find a cure to breast cancer, so I can continue to stare at a woman’s breast!” and “I want to ‘help’ find a cure to breast cancer because if they get a mastectomy [the removal of a breast], what am I supposed to look at?!”
The wristbands also focus on the women who have been newly diagnosed and does nothing for the psychological trauma women face as they are discovering the cancer, or the psychological trauma women whose cancer continues to return.
There are more sayings that promote the objectification of women’s breast such as “Save a life. Grab a boob,” “Save the ta-tas!” “It’s all about the boobies!” “Feel your boobies,” and “Save the boobies!” All of these without the right context or pink ribbon seems lewd and insulting, but since it’s about cancer, people don’t seem to mind it more than they should.
No one wants a woman to die of something preventable, but there is a much better way to raise awareness and money instead of focusing on the breasts instead of the women. For example, there is a counter-movement who also raises money and awareness for this disease whose slogan is “Save the women, not the boobies!”
Let’s get that saying on our wrists instead.