Football Games, T-shirts & Distractions

Two weeks ago Dear Hubby and I attended a football game at our son’s college. My son doesn’t play football. He plays the tuba in the marching band. It was one of those warm, gorgeous blue-sky fall days. Plus it was homecoming, so of course the stadium was packed with spectators. As fate would have it, a man wearing a black t-shirt sat down a couple of rows in front of us. In large bold pink letters across the back of it were the words, “I support breast cancer awareness.”

Immediately Dear Hubby looked at me and said, “Well, that’s nice. Maybe you should take his picture.” He’s getting more used to me whipping out my camera wherever we go and snapping pictures of who knows what.

Hmm… Not so fast, I thought. I knew better. Besides I didn’t really want to draw attention to myself during the middle of a football game by zooming in on some strange man’s t-shirt which I was immediately “suspicious” of anyway.

Sure enough, a while later the man got up, turned around slowly to face the crowd, stretched his arms up high as if to say, “notice me,” and boy did we. On the front of his black t-shirt also in bold pink were two large pink hands cupped over the breast area of the t-shirt and of course, there were the words, also in pink, “I’ll Help Feel Your Boobies!”

Dear Hubby was embarrassed and said something like, “Oh, I didn’t know there was stuff like that out there.” Like I’ve said before, he doesn’t read my blog.

He wasn’t the only one embarrassed. Other people sitting around us were too. I could tell by the way they looked at the man and pretended not to look at the same time, then snickered and whispered to whoever was sitting close to them. People were ill at ease. People were distracted from the game!

That’s when it hit me. That’s what this type of t-shirt is, a distraction and in my opinion, not the right kind.

T-shirts like this distract from the seriousness of a deadly disease like breast cancer. They distract from the realities of breast cancer. They distract by demeaning and trivializing women’s bodies. (Again, why is this okay?) They distract from meaningful awareness. Heck, they even distract from a football game.

Organizations like Feel Your Boobies, Save the tatas, Keep A Breast (I love boobies campaign), Project Boobies and all the rest would say, that’s right; that is our goal. We want to be a distraction. We want to lighten up cancer. We want to distract from the seriousness of it. We want to grab the attention of a younger crowd.

I still say the younger crowd deserves better and by the way, the man wearing this t-shirt was not a member of the younger crowd.

I stand by the words in my earlier post about Feel Your Boobies.

Such tactics distract for all the wrong reasons. And like I’ve said before, I probably wouldn’t care so much if such organizations were delivering truckloads of dollars for research, but that does not appear to be the case.

I realize these t-shirts aren’t all that important in the scheme of things. I do believe in a person’s right to wear what-ever-in-the-heck they’d like. I just get irritated when such items are worn in the name of  “breast cancer awareness” as if by wearing them something profound is being accomplished.

Finally, I’ll just mention that originally I was going to dig up more photos of the various silly t-shirts and bracelets that are out there and then I said to myself, no. Not this time.

I’m going to post photos of my son’s marching band instead.

What do you think?

Are such t-shirts, bracelets etc the wrong kind of distraction?

Or is any kind of  “awareness” a good thing?

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19 thoughts to “Football Games, T-shirts & Distractions”

  1. Can I just say I love that your son plays tuba in a marching band for a midwestern college. I’d like to come visit and watch his band. But, more to the point, you are absolutely right about that kind of blatent sexualization of breast cancer being a distraction. What gets me is the fine line we’re forced to walk regarding our feelings toward it. If we’re not for it, then we’re seen as being against those that are striving for awareness and we’re hit with the “lighten up” crap again. They seem to think it’s okay to do whatever it takes, but it’s not and the organizations that stoop to that level need to rethink their message.

    1. Rachel, Marching bands are so much fun to watch perform aren’t they? And yes, come to think of it, I do need to get THAT kind of t-shirt! I go to watch the band, not the football game. The entertainment is way better! Yes, we need REAL awareness, not pretend awareness.

  2. Nancy, you hit the mark again! Love your line, “I just get irritated when such items are worn in the name of ‘breast cancer awareness’ as if by wearing them something profound is being accomplished.”

    My feelings exactly. Kudos!

    1. Renn, Thanks for your comments. I would never dispute anyone’s right to wear whatever they want, I just question the motivation behind the reason some people wear this stuff.

  3. “Sure enough, a while later the man got up, turned around slowly to face the crowd, stretched his arms up …”

    What an idiot.

    This man does not care about breast cancer awareness, let alone research. He is only wearing this shirt because it says “I’ll help feel your boobies” and he couldn’t find one without a mention of breast cancer awareness on the back!

    I would think that if he has a wife or a mom or a sister with breast cancer, he would know better. Maybe I’m wrong, though.

    1. Lindsay, Thanks for commenting. I can’t say for sure what the man’s motivations were, but I think you might be right. It seemed he enjoyed the attention for himself. He did succeed in making us all very aware of him that’s for sure.

  4. I was recently diagnosed with Mets. I have to admit, the first time around silly ideas like this helped to distract me from the magnitude of worry I had. Now, I am irritated and angry.
    You are right! In my opinion, such tactics distract for all the wrong reasons. And like I’ve said before, I probably wouldn’t care so much if such organizations were delivering truckloads of dollars for research, but that does not appear to be the case.
    Let’s get after what the real issue is, and isn’t a lack of men groping women.
    Let’s solve the problem of too many people suffering through breast cancer, and too many dying.

    1. Kel, I’m sorry you were diagnosed with mets. All of these distractions waste time and resources don’t they? I don’t blame you for being irritated and angry. We need to stop trivializing this disease and women. And in my opinion, that’s what these types of campaigns/merchandise do. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Hi Nancy,

    I couldn’t help myself and have had to read the blogs near and dear to my heart.

    This guy with the shirt is a problem. That’s one of the results of sexualizing breast cancer. Grrrrr.

    I didn’t know your son was in a marching band? So cool. I went to Michigan State and had the pleasure of watching our marching bands. Bet you are so proud of him!!

    1. Beth, Well I’m glad you “came out of hiding” to read a few blogs! I realize the guy with the shirt will never get it and yes, grrrrrr. Marching bands are pretty awesome to watch aren’t they? Our son loves it and yes, we are very proud of him. Thanks for commenting, Beth. How’s the proposal coming along?

  6. I, too, love marching bands and played in our high school band all through school. We were top rated in concert or marching. Sadly, my old high school no longer has a good music program.

    As for all the hoorah and “cutesy” ways of promoting breast cancer awareness…well, I’m of the old school (agewise) and a little more reserved than today’s young woman. But that man’s t-shirt was outta line. I doubt that he contributed much to BC research. Just sayin’.

    1. Whitestone, Thanks for you comments. Yes, it’s too bad so many schools no longer have good music programs for various reasons isn’t it? I’m glad you had such a great experience in marching band. I’m with you about that man and his “contributions” to breast cancer awareness.

  7. Nancy I agree with you about the t-shirts, some of them are so crass, and demeaning. But I hate to admit it, it does catch my attention, as apparently that man’s did. We as humans, too often try to make light of difficult situations, often those who are immersed in the difficulties are the first to crack jokes, or try to downplay what is happening to them. Is it right or wrong? that all depends on the person themselves. There is a line from scripture that reads ‘Whoever is not against us is for us.’ (Mk 9:40) So even if it seems a little off-color, the word is getting out and people are talking, and that at least is a good thing. And when people voice the injustice and abuses in the name of a ’cause,’ they too bring greater attention to the underlying message that we need ‘a cure.’

    Love the photos of the band and football game, thanks for sharing. xoxox Rose Mary

  8. I think awareness of one particular cause can wear on people if it is to the exclusion of other causes. I guess I’m a sensitive person and always think about others’ feelings. Those with leg lymphedema often resent all the attention given arm lymphedema all because of the money thrown into breast cancer causes. I apologize for it, but wonder why I need to apologize because I have breast cancer and not some other condition. It’s a conundrum that I haven’t solved yet. Thanks for the great discussion!

    1. Jan, One particular awareness cause becoming wearing, that’s a new way of stating it! I think many of the other cancers are suffering from more than a bit of pink fatigue. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the “conundrum of it all.”

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