A week or so ago it was brought to my attention by friend and fellow blogger, Ann Marie of Chemobrain fame, that a certain small town in Minnesota was the center of a brewing bikini parade controversy.
I read Ann Marie’s post with great interest. She spoke out passionately, taking a fair amount of heat I might add, about the absurdity of this component of the event, pointing out the various reasons for this absurdity and I thought; well, she pretty much covered things. There was no need for me to say more.
Besides, if I spoke out too, wouldn’t that just be giving this silliness more publicity?
But wait, not so fast.
I grew up in that neck of the woods.
How can I keep quiet?
Well, I can’t and I won’t.
The question I’d like to ask is this:
Is this particular bikini parade merely about people having some innocent summer fun or is it a really bad idea?
First of all, here’s a quick review of the facts.
This particular bikini parade is only one segment of the larger community Paddle Fish Days Parade, an annual event in Madison Lake, MN. The parade is scheduled to take place on Saturday, July 28, in Madison Lake.
Sadly, the bikini brigade segment is pretty much stealing the limelight and overshadowing the rest of the parade entries. I wonder how they all feel…
The person behind the bikini brigade idea is Cynthia Frederick, owner of Electric Beach Tanning Salon, located in nearby Mankato. Parade participants will pay $20 or $25 to enter, for which they will receive t-shirts. Net proceeds will go to the Breast Cancer Natural Prevention Foundation.
Ms. Frederick says has been mulling her idea around for quite some time.
What’s wrong with Ms. Frederick’s goals you might be asking?
On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with them, but under the surface, perhaps plenty.
For starters, the city council members of Madison Lake are not in favor of her idea, four out of five to be exact. The council members do not feel a bikini parade fits the tone they’d like to keep for this family-centered event.
Another problem some are having with this bikini element is because, as they see it, this is yet another example of the blatant and continuing sexualization of breast cancer done under the pretense of working toward awareness. At the very least, they feel a bikini parade in the name of breast cancer is insensitive to women with breast cancer, many of whom have had to deal with radical body alterations.
Yes, these things are bothersome for me as well, but they are not my main concern this time. If women want to march in a parade wearing a bikini in July, so be it.
No, my problem lies with the organization Ms. Frederick is choosing to fund and thus, the messages she is sending to parade participants and others.
The Breast Cancer Natural Prevention Foundation’s underlying message seems to be that breast cancer can be prevented by increasing vitamin D levels through more exposure to natural sunlight.
Are we to trade breast cancer for melanoma?
Don’t get me wrong, I love sunshine too, but their premise is a bit skewed and far too simplistic.
Dr. James Benzmiller, a dermatopathologist at The Mankato Clinic, agrees that studies indicate there may be a link between cancer and vitamin D.
However, Dr. Benzmiller also makes an important distinction with this simple statement in a recent article posted on Twin Cities.com-Pioneer Press:
science “has never proven that a lack of vitamin D causes cancer.”
Dr. Benzmiller goes on to say:
“There is no safe threshold of ultraviolet exposure. Basically, UV radiation, whether it’s from a tanning bed or the sun, causes oncogenic (cancer-causing) radiation. … It’s not conjecture, it’s fact.”
Most doctors will say yes, most of us need more vitamin D, but it’s better to get it through dietary means, not necessarily more sun exposure.
Does Ms. Frederick have the right to own a tanning salon, promote a bikini parade and donate to a charity of her choosing?
Well, of course she does.
However, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that ESPN and lots of other media sources will be hanging around in near-by Mankato for the opening of Vikings training camp. I don’t think it’s a coincidence the organization she chooses to support is one that’s all about
tanning vitamin D sunlight.
Admittedly, I have no idea what her true motives might be.
However, in my opinion, she is potentially doing more harm here than good.
Harm potentially comes from backing a Breast Cancer organization which, in my opinion, is promoting misleading information. Once again, well-meaning people are being led to believe they are taking meaningful action.
But in the end, isn’t this bikini parade simply innocent harmless summer fun?
Isn’t Ms. Frederick at least trying to do something good?
To this I say good intentions are no longer enough.
Each of us needs to be more aware of the choices we are making, even if it’s about walking in a parade, bikini clad or not, while supposedly supporting a good cause.
Each of us needs to try to understand where our donation dollars are going and how (at least generally) they’ll be spent.
Choose to back reputable charitable organizations in good standing that are focusing on scientifically based research or other worthy causes you care about.
In the past I have hesitated to suggest organizations worth donating to, but no more. I’m making the choice to speak out and share a few of my favorites. Here are four that, in my opinion, are worthy ones.
There are many others, but check these out for starters if you’re unsure where to donate.
Let’s help these organizations break some records of their own.
Now that would merit a parade of gargantuan size we could all proudly “march in” wouldn’t you say?
Do you think this particular parade is simply harmless summer fun?
Do you believe good intentions are enough?
Do you research where your donation dollars are going?