Some blog posts I struggle to write. This was one of those. When I finished writing it, I also hesitated to push the publish button. Sometimes speaking out about someone, or in this case an organization, is hard. Sometimes not speaking out is even harder. This is one of those times when it was harder not to, so here goes…
The focus of this post is on the tactics of one particular breast cancer fund raising organization. This organization is called, “Feel Your Boobies Foundation.” When I first learned about this organization, I simply brushed them aside because come on, who could actually take any organization with a name like that seriously?
Last week differing viewpoints in the blogosphere and on Facebook clashed a bit, to say the least, and the true colors (and I don’t mean pink) of this organization were shown more clearly. A blogger friend of mine expressed her opinions about a particular part of their campaign. Her opinions resulted in some insensitive comments being hurled her way, and she was banned from making more comments on their Facebook page, which speaks volumes in itself. (Censorship? Really?)
I try not to be judgmental regarding a person’s or an organization’s motives. I try to give everyone the benefit of a doubt. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, I don’t even want them to. I also firmly believe in everyone’s right to express him or herself however they choose. Likewise, I have the right to do the same. After thinking about last week’s confrontation, I decided to throw in my two cents.
The mission of “Feel Your Boobies” is this:
|Feel Your Boobies® is a breast cancer non-profit organization whose mission is to utilize unexpected and unconventional methods to remind women, especially those under 40, to “feel their boobies”. Getting in the habit of knowing what is normal for you increases the chances of noticing a breast lump or other changes when they occur.|
I have no problem with their mission statement. They can have whatever mission they’d like. I do have a few problems with the organization in general, however, so the following points are the ones I wish to make.
First of all, if I’m going to be honest, I do have a problem with the name this organization chose. Supposedly they chose the name “Feel Your Boobies” in order to “lighten up cancer” a bit, bring some humor into it and try to appeal to a younger crowd. I think it’s just another example of dumbing things down. I see their “unexpected and unconventional” methods as gimmicky and sexist. And trivializing.
But the real problem is, how do you lighten up cancer and still be taken seriously as a fund raising organization?
In my opinion, this tactic fails young people on two fronts.
First of all, this “unexpected and unconventional method” is an insult to the younger crowd. I know this because I have a daughter in her twenties and two college age sons who are quite familiar with the non-humorous aspects of cancer. All of them spent hours sitting by their grandmother’s bedside, holding her hand while watching her wither away before their eyes from stage IV breast cancer. They know firsthand about cancer’s ugliness. It’s impossible, maybe even wrong, to gloss over the seriousness or attempt to ”make light” of any aspect of cancer.
A mere two years later they started closely observing me receive a diagnosis and then go through a bilateral, reconstruction, chemo and ongoing therapy. They fully realize I am still at risk for recurrence. They understand the realities all too well. Attempting to lighten reality up with a frivolous sounding catchy phrase somehow belittles their already too-well understood reality.
Young people are smarter than that. They don’t need or want things sugar coated.
Secondly, FYB is a disservice (even if unintentional) to young people because it desensitizes them to what breast cancer potentially still is, deadly; there’s nothing lighthearted about that. Reading some of the almost crude comments on their own facebook page proves my point about their “fans” being insensitive. FYB’s deletion of serious commentary (made by Uneasy Pink and other survivors) further proves it.
In my opinion, my kids and all young people deserve better.
Another problem I have with this organization is they primarily focus on early detection for YOUNG women by, well, “feeling your boobies,” which is fine, but actually by the time a younger woman can feel a lump, it may not be all that early. Also, they seem to fail to recognize the fact YOUNG women can and DO develop stage IV breast cancer. Even if a YOUNG woman finds her cancer early, this does not mean she will NOT develop stage IV breast cancer. Stage IV can and does happen at any age.
Next, and this is my biggest problem, in order for any breast cancer fundraising organization to have ANY credibility it cannot simply turn a blind eye to the other areas in need of dollars such as RESEARCH. Only through RESEARCH will the real solutions of better treatments and a cure be achieved.
If you are professing to be a fundraising organization advocating for women in their fight against breast cancer, you just cannot be taken seriously if you do not also support RESEARCH.
My next concern with this particular organization is the implied message that breasts define a woman’s femininity and even worth. It seems to be saying “hang on to your boobies no matter what; they are what matter most about you.” Even if this is not their intent, such a non-serious sounding name, (which is also marketed on their products) implies this. Again, this is my opinion, but quite a few others seem to agree with me on this one.
And what about the growing number of YOUNG women who are discovering they are BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation carriers? What about them? Many of these YOUNG women are choosing preventative prophylactic mastectomies with or without reconstruction. How do you think they feel when they hear or see the words, “Feel Your Boobies?” Making these tough decisions is hard enough without hearing trivializing words like these.
In the past, I have held the position that I don’t care what an organization calls itself and in all honestly, I probably wouldn’t care what this one called itself either if it was delivering truckloads of dollars earmarked for research. But it isn’t. So I do care.
Fund raising organizations need to be accountable because they are caretakers of the dollars they receive from their donators. They have a responsibility to them. I worry that some people think they are giving to this organization believing it is doing something significant with their dollars. Passing out pink bracelets, magnets or t-shirts to high school students with the words “Feel Your Boobies” doesn’t seem to me like it’s accomplishing a whole lot of good.
It does seem to get kids wearing this stuff sent to the principal’s office quite often though.
I do not wish to “wag my finger” at anyone or any group. Doing that doesn’t really work anyway. If you sound too emotional or “hot under the collar,” no one will listen to what you really want to say. They will tune you out. I know I am at some risk for being tuned out today.
I admit to being a bit “hot under the collar” about this. I think I have a right to be considering my personal experience with breast cancer. I am most certainly not against humor; I am against demeaning women and trivializing breast cancer through “snarky” slogans and comments. In my opinion, this organization seems to do both.
If you haven’t tuned me out, once again what I want to say is this; KNOW where your donated dollars are going. Earmark them for RESEARCH whenever possible. If an organization is not funneling dollars to RESEARCH, find an organization that is! And also, don’t buy or wear gimmicky products.
DO check out this organization’s website and facebook page (although remember they do delete the controversial stuff) and take time to read some of the comments left there. Decide for yourself what you think of it. If you don’t like their message, let them know. If you don’t like mine, let me know as well.
Speak up about things that matter to you. Let your voice be heard.
I’d love to hear your voice, even if you disagree with me.
Finally, If you actually took time to read all of this, thank you for not tuning me out!