Due to an amazing marketing campaign, October is pretty much synonymous with breast cancer awareness. Initiatives, fundraisers, rallies, walks, and numerous athletic events are devoted to the theme of breast cancer awareness. I really should not even just isolate October as the sole breast cancer awareness month because it seems as if much of the whole calendar year is devoted to the fight against breast cancer. I think this is wonderful. Breast cancer is an awful disease that is the most prevalent cancer in women. I really think there can’t be enough done to fight it.
However, while I do support the round-the-clock, constant breast cancer awareness message, I do question some of the methods used to bring this awareness. My thought is to continue to use the techniques that actually bring about awareness and that raise funds for the cause while dumping silly and pointless schemes that don’t do anything.
Before I disclose what I think is a huge stretch when it comes to breast cancer awareness, I do want to defend a certain method that always seems to come under fire. Perhaps because this particular part of the breast cancer campaign is so visible and prevalent on a national stage it is bound to generate a lot of criticism. Whenever something is seen by a mass amount of people, there are going to be a lot of different opinions and thoughts on its effectiveness. Anyway, I am talking about the implementation of “pink games” in athletic contests on all levels in seemingly all sports across the nation. Come October, everyone from the Class B high school volleyball squad to every NFL team in the league holds some sort of pink game. You know the drill, fans are encouraged to wear pink to the game, pink ribbons are readily handed out, referees use pink whistles and flags, teams wear pink uniforms, etc. There are a lot of people out there who roll their eyes at these breast cancer games and think wearing pink to these contests does absolutely nothing for the fight against breast cancer. Many fans will grumble and act above the cause by saying something to the tune of, “I don’t need to participate in this silly initiative. I am a diehard fan and I will be wearing the traditional colors of my team on the day of the pink game. Aren’t I macho?!”
You see, many of these people don’t understand or don’t bother to look at everything else that is going on at these games besides the very visible pink layer that covers the athletic facility. For majority of these games there is always an organization that is directly tied to breast cancer awareness that is sponsoring the event while at the same time fundraising for the cause. At most of these events, the proceeds from the pink clothing that you were too proud to buy in fear that you might assault the tradition of your team are going directly toward breast cancer research. Survivors who defeated breast cancer are honored at these games, giving hope and inspiration to the people in the stands who are currently battling the disease or who might find themselves up against it in the future. Information by way of pamphlets, ads on the jumbo tron, and messages scrolled across the scoreboard all give direction and support to people who are fighting breast cancer. Most importantly, this theme is displayed in front of a community of people who are gathered together…whenever you have a large amount of people participating in a joint effort, a message (in this case, breast cancer awareness) is going to make an impression. I am a big proponent of pink games.
However, some efforts at “raising breast cancer awareness” make me shake my head. I can’t stand the stupid Facebook status games that people participate in to try to say that they are supporting the fight against breast cancer. I am sure most of you have seen the most recent incarnation of this. Women are supposed to build a status using this model: “I’m going to live in ____________ (a country) for ___________ (a number) of months.” Today while eating lunch at my desk I saw where one of my friends who has been trying so hard to find a job outside of Missoula had written “I’m going to live in Amsterdam for 20 months.” With people already starting to leave comments of congratulations under her post, I made sure to leave one as well. I had no idea that this was a breast cancer status. Later on in the day I caught up to her and got to wish her congratulations in a more personal way. She then told me that the status was not true. I felt pretty stupid. If you have not seen this one yet, I am sure you have seen other “breast cancer awareness” status examples. One entailed women simply putting down a color as their status (men would later figure out that it was their bra color) and another one had women saying “I like it on __________” Despite the suggestive nature of the status, the blank was just supposed to be filled in with where that particular girl put her purse when she got home.
I am not going to go on a tirade bashing these statuses though. I mean really what more can I say besides the fact that I have no idea in hell how these statuses help with breast cancer awareness. Many men (and women in fact) will go through the whole day never knowing at all what that status was actually alluding to. At least for pink games you see the pink and you know right away what is at the forefront of discussion. Even if eventually everyone knew by the end of the day that the status game that played out all day on Facebook was some type of tribute to the fight against breast cancer what would anyone take away from it? I did all the research I could to figure out exactly how it is aiding breast cancer awareness and I could not find one thing. Pretty pointless I would say. I guess it was a funny game and it had a lot of people scratching their heads on what exactly was going on but at the end of the day there is no powerful message promoting breast cancer to take home.
Messages can be killed when they are presented in a way that is too cute/tricky/mysterious. In many cases, simplicity is the best. If you are trying to pass along an important message, such as breast cancer awareness, don’t ever try to initially exclude anyone. Once you shut them out the first time there is no guarantee that they will still be hanging around at the end of the day to hear the explanation of the big joke. Breast cancer awareness is a much too serious of a subject to be sneaky and sly about. Don’t Blink.