Isn’t a Bikini Parade Just Harmless Summer Fun?

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.

Yes, seriously.

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.

Frederick has two goals in mind. Number one, to break the Guinness World Records mark for the largest bikini parade ever held and number two, to raise money/awareness to prevent breast cancer.  

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.”

Yes, Tanning beds pose the same risk and no dermatologist in his right mind would say otherwise.

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.

How?

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.

METAvivor Research & Support

Army of Women

Breast Cancer Action

National Breast Cancer Coalition

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?

For another opinion from a medical professional on this bikini parade and more, please read Dr. Elaine Schattner’s recent post at Medical Lessons.

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 comments


  • Ginny Marie

    July 26, 2012

    At first, I was thinking that they can go ahead and do what they want to in regards to a bikini parade, but then to find out about donations going to a breast cancer organization? Ugh. I feel the same way about bars selling beer for breast cancer awareness, or a bottle of wine with the pink ribbon on it. It’s not because I don’t drink…I do in moderation, but because there may be a link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer. Timely post for me, Nancy…I’m just about to write a review for a mastectomy swimsuit!

    • Nancy

      July 27, 2012

      Ginny Marie, I know what you mean. And it’s not just that the donations are going to a breast cancer organization, it’s the organization that was chosen that is hugely problematic for me. I look forward to reading your swimsuit post. I actually wrote about a swimsuit once, “the Prize That No One Wanted.” Guess who won it? Yep, that would be me! Thanks for commenting.

  • Nancy,

    Thank you so much for mentioning my blog in your entry. Yes, I did take a bit of “heat” for expressing my opinion but that seems to be an underlying theme these days…. :)

    Interestingly, on my blog today (and I would provide the link but it’s from a journal that requires you set up a login so I just reprinted with proper credit) is an article about the dangers associated specifically with tanning salons and the increased risk for melanoma. There are some fascinating facts about the tanning industry……. and about how their claims have been consistently “debunked” …. this is from REAL scientists not those snake-oil salesmen!

    I’m glad you are in the ring with me on this one. You are welcome to include a link to this post in the comments on my blog… or on today’s blog and I will incorporate them into the blog so it’s a “clickable” link. I’m not doing that without your advance permission as I don’t want’ your blog to turn into a potential circus unless you want to be the ringmaster…

    Thanks again for being my friend and for stepping out against this event which is wrong on so MANY levels. I would HIGHLY recommend listening to the one piece in the 2nd video from Dr. Larry Norton about Vitamin D which he brilliantly says is NOT a supplement but a substitution…. The time is marked so you don’t need to listen to the whole video….

    xoxox

    ps-Jan….. I think I argued that exact point in a reply to someone who kept asking why this is so bad…. Ummm… “bikinis in support of the very women who have a hard time finding ANYTHING to use for swimming” …. Damn…. I should have included the link to the woman in Seattle who has permission to swim topless because of her mastectomy.

    Great Job, Nancy. I’ll meet you there to do a protest!!!

    • Nancy

      July 27, 2012

      Ann Marie, You are very welcome. Your post was pretty eye-opening for various reasons. I guess I didn’t put my link into your post, maybe I should, but then again, maybe not! ha. Actually I welcome opposing viewpoints, though not hostile ones. I’m sorry you were put through the wringer so badly. Anyway, thanks for spotting this story taking place near where I grew up. It’s all a publicity stunt really, as you said, not illegal, but more than a bit unethical. Thanks for stopping by to chime in here too.

  • OH… forgot to mention the best part… the links to what I believe to be the most worthy non-profits in the breast cancer arena.

    Having volunteered my time to each of them in one way or another, you truly selected the best of the best.

    Hugs,
    AM

    • Nancy

      July 27, 2012

      Ann Marie, I’m glad you agree! Thanks for adding your opinion.

  • Elaine

    July 26, 2012

    Nancy, Thanks again for addressing the BS head-on! Keep thinking -

    • Nancy

      July 27, 2012

      Elaine, I love how you don’t mince words. You aren’t afraid to call something BS when you see/hear it! Good for you and thanks for stopping by.

  • Alli

    July 26, 2012

    Harmless summer fun? Hardly,
    The ongoing trend to sexualize breast cancer is becoming more prevelant. From the ” Love Boobies” to “Save the Tata’s” along with various other terms .. The fact that Breast Cancer has been taking on a celebratory connotation I find personally repugnant…
    Women for so long have been stigmatized, made to feel guilty because we lost our Breasts. Only now to be made a mockery of, we are supposed to feel grateful? If we don’t we come across as self serving “Bitches” People are so ready to jump on the bandwagon, be like Sheeple join up and join in without even realizing what the ramifications of some of these groups and their actions really consist of. Great join volunteer your time but at least have the foresight to research what you are joining to determine if this is what will be useful in helping to eradicate this dreaded disease.. not just to be a name in the Guiness book of records, that has nothing to do with Breast Cancer. The tanning Salon and this so called foundation… ** I’m rolling my eyeballs** does that say enough??

    Love Alli XX

    • Nancy

      July 27, 2012

      Alli, I can almost see you rolling your eyes right now! And yes, it says plenty and I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Jan Baird Hasak

    July 29, 2012

    I’m glad you didn’t keep quiet, Nancy. More people need to know about this outrage. I’m especially peeved by the vitamin D claim. I have several friends who in their sixties got melanoma. They were fed the same nonsense about it. Thank you for including a list of organizations that are worthy of our donation dollars. I haven’t done as much research on BC non-profits as I should. xx

    • Nancy

      July 30, 2012

      Jan, Thanks, Jan. It seems there is more than enough “nonsense” out there doesn’t it?

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