Are We Trivializing Breast Cancer (and Demeaning Women) Even As We Raise Awareness?

Christine Moffa, MS, RN, clinical editor

I admit it. On January 7th my  Facebook status simply stated “Black.” Normally I’m not a joiner, but when I received a message from a FB friend that said the following, This is fun put just the color of your bra in your status and send an email to the girls only and see if the guys can figure it out, it’s to raise breast cancer awareness,” I only paused for a moment. While a small part of me wondered if it was legit, I changed my status and forwarded the message on to other friends.

It seemed cute and harmless enough—until today, when I came across Donna Trussell’s article at Politics Daily. Her arguments—in which she interrogated her own feelings (as an ovarian cancer survivor) about our culture’s seeming obsession with breast cancer awareness, and distinguished between feel-good awareness and real action—made a lot of sense to me. The whole thing reminds me of the April 2009 cover of AJN (image below) featuring a piece from the Artful Bras Project by the Quilters of South Carolina, also created to raise breast cancer awareness.

We received a lot of letters about that one, both positive and negative. Either way, it does get people talking. Is doing something as silly (and, to some, either sexist or demeaning) as this justified in the name of increasing awareness about a disease?

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2016-11-21T13:20:09+00:00 January 18th, 2010|Nursing|2 Comments
Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


  1. […] in January I posed the following question: “Is doing something as silly (and, to some, either sexist or demeaning) as this justified in […]

  2. deanna January 18, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    I think that there is an abundance of awareness issues about breast cancer–which is good for that cause. At the same time, I feel that breast cancer has completely overshadowed the other cancers that are just as deadly–lung cancer and ovarian cancer for example.
    I saw somewhere on facebook that someone posted for men to put the colors of their briefs up–supposedly in support of prostate health. Seriously?
    Any cancer can use support and help with research costs etc, but to continuously throw breast cancer in our faces without acknowleding the many other illness that we face–that’s a form of ignorance as well.
    I am not against supporting any cause that benefits the health of others, but I feel there is overkill in the breast cancer arena.

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