I don’t often have the reaction that I am going to share with you today. Most of the time I am easy-going and can ‘roll with the punches’ that come. However, I cannot keep my mouth shut on this issue because it is really bothering me!
This week I saw SEVERAL (not just ONE) people posting about fitness events they are hosting to help support BREAST CANCER. I LOVE that people are onboard with raising funds for research and to help those who have been afflicted by this terrible disease. I LOVE that people are hosting events to help raise awareness and to give support to people and families who have been impacted by breast cancer. What I CAN’T STAND is that they are diminishing it by titling their programs “Burpees for Boobies” or “Barbells for Boobs” or any other combination of words like that! Honestly, even as I write those words I have a visceral reaction to them. Those words are so offensive!
I have thought about this for a few days before responding because I want my words to be heard. BREAST CANCER is a SERIOUS disease. This year alone, more than 230,000 people will find out they have it. In fact, it affects 1 in 8 women, and is the 2nd leading cause of death in the female population! It doesn’t just impact women, however. More than 2300 men will be diagnosed with it this year as well. I will guess that almost every one of you reading this has been affected by this disease because you have had it or know someone who has. That is SERIOUS!
And yet, as a culture, we are diminishing and degrading the problem by using a word that is infantile at best and derogatory at the worst. The word, ‘boob’ or ‘boobies’ is demeaning! It is a way of describing a body part that is silly and ridiculous. It has NOTHING to do with breast cancer, and using that word diminishes the suffering and anguish that those with this illness experience.
Words are POWERFUL. The way we say something and the vocabulary we use makes a difference in the way the message is received. We are talking about BREAST CANCER, not about boobs! There is a SIGNIFICANT difference between the two!
Think about it — if we wanted to do “Dips for Dicks” to raise funds for testicular cancer, would there be an outcry? What about “Crunches for Cocks?”
The truth is that it wouldn’t happen! No one would stand for it because it is NOT OKAY to use those words! So why, then, is it okay to use “boobies?”
As I was thinking about writing this blog, I decided to ask some of the women I know about how they feel about this word and how it is being used to help raise awareness of about the disease of breast cancer. EVERY SINGLE WOMAN I spoke with said that they feel completely offended by this trend. They talked about the “I love boobies” bracelets that are being sold by organizations and companies. Although the underlying purpose is to raise money and awareness, the message is skewed. We use the word, “boobies” to make fun of a body part. We use the word ‘boob’ to laugh at someone or some thing. In many cases, they are simply marketing ploys that have NOTHING TO DO WITH BREAST CANCER!!
I could make a strong feminist case for this if I wanted to continue here. I could talk about how we have made so many strides forward in our country to make sure that women are taken seriously and seen as worthwhile individuals. I could argue that women are not just the sum of their body parts. But what I really want to do is raise YOUR awareness so that you begin to question the practice – to help YOU understand that words are important and consider that just because it’s happening doesn’t mean that it’s okay- and ultimately, I hope I make YOU think twice before using those words again.