Friday, January 8, 2010

Why I don't want to know what color your bra is

A couple of days ago over on Facebook, I started noticing people's statuses popping up with just one word--something like this: "beige" "polka dot" "white", "black lace" etc. I had no idea what this was all about until I got a message asking me to participate to spread breast cancer awareness by announcing the color of the bra I was wearing and to see how long it would take the men to realize what we wacky women were up to.

The thing spread like a disease (look! awareness already!) and is all over Facebook. Apparently it has also been picked up by major news services. What I'm not clear about is exactly why everyone knowing the color of my underwear spreads breast cancer awareness.

Here's the thing: I'm pretty aware of breast cancer without having to let you know the status of my skivvies. My mother's twin sister died of the disease last year and both my father's two sisters are survivors, although one aunt has the chronic type and will be on chemotherapy, G-d willing for a long time to come. (Which means, by the way, that I need to get tested for the BRCA gene to see just how high-risk I am for getting the disease, because oh yes, I'm in a high risk category anyway because of the radiation I had years ago for that other cancer of mine).

Let's see now, what else? At least three close friends whose mother's faced the disease, with one of them succumbing. Two good friends in their thirties and early forties who are survivors. One survivor friend who produced and directed a short film to make a statement about the disease. One friend seriously considering getting a preventative mastectomy because she says that statistically it's pretty much a sure thing she'll get it. And one blogger-friend who lives with the disease and posts about how she does that almost daily.

These are just women I consider friends. How many more are there that I know of--friends of friends, family of friends, friends of my mother, people in the community that have faced the disease? To many to count.

And I know I'm not alone. Surely all of you have been touched by the disease as well.

Why do we have to be titillating to increase awareness? Wouldn't it be better to use the Facebook status to remind women to get a mammogram? Or to donate to a specific foundation that is engaged in research or is devoted to helping women fighting the disease? And I don't dare imagine what the men will do to increase awareness of prostate cancer.

So no, I won't be telling you about my undergarments. I'll be glad when this thing runs its course.

And by the way, is it time for you or someone you love to have a mammogram?


Benji Lovitt said...

Well said, Baila.

Risa Tzohar said...


Leora said...

This is a much better post than the ridiculous color business.

And I won't get into the mammogram controversy - just mentioning that there is one.

Since I know you probably have no pesticides in your lawn (do you even have a lawn), I'll say get rid of pesticides on one's lawn. There's one small thing one can do to lower risk.

Robin said...

I've got my baseline mammogram coming up in a few weeks :). (Re the controversy, the doctors here in Israel are not planning to change their recommendations due to the recent report, nor is the nurse practicioner at the medical practice I spoke to in the US - ok, my mom ;).)

Still, the best way of all are those regular self-exams. We know our bodies best of all. Be aware of any changes folks, and have them checked out without delay.

Robin said...

PS That said, I have no problem with the bra color thing - it may be asinine, but it's got everyone talking about breast cancer this week - and what we can do to fight it.

Anonymous said...

I am sure that your blog inspired many more women to "check" themselves than a FB status with "black lace" ever could...Kol HaKavode to you, Baila


Leora said...

Robin, oops, yes, that was a different controversy, more in the media. I meant that tests in general, even getting cat scans on a regular basis, exposes one to radiation. What to do? I don't know.

Robin said...

I don't know either Leora, but for myself I've decided I'm willing to risk the occasional low-dose radiation (only once every two years for a mammogram) in exchange for the information it gives me. Everyone needs to come to a decision they're comfortable with though, it's a very personal thing.

Batya said...

Excellent post.
I don't put my bras out on the line to dry; I don't display them, and if I get one of those requests, I won't play the game.
Refuah Shleimah to those in need.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you; there are plenty of ways to speak about breast cancer and this FB was just rather stupid. Here in France, it also led to numerous stupid comments on people's pages. It seems that the focus was on the initiative not the issue.