Brace yourself for a rant

It’s been a while since I’ve gone all Serena Williams on a company or organization. Now that the Komen-Planned Parenthood debacle has died down, I’m in need of a new reason to rant.

Lo and behold, as I browsed the Sunday paper, a new rant fell right into my lap.

An ad for Dillard’s titled FI{gh}T FOR THE CURE has me seeing red, not pink.

“Help Wacoal KNOCKOUT breast cancer at a Fit for the Cure event,” reads the ad. It’s a simple idea: the bra maker will donate $2 for every woman who comes to the store to be fitted for a new bra during the event. And for every bra purchased, an additional $2 will be donated.

I’m all for donating to good causes, and I’m all for shopping. But I have 2 problems with this Wacoal campaign. First, the money is being donated to Komen “for breast cancer research and community outreach programs.” Come on, Wacoal — donate for something that will actually make a difference. We’ve all seen the pathetic Komen numbers on just how much (or how little) of these donations go toward research. Research that could potentially find a cure. As in Susan G. Komen FOR THE CURE. Or research that could potentially KNOCKOUT breast cancer, as in the Wacoal FI{gh}T FOR THE CURE slogan so tantalizingly states. Wacoal has donated $2.5 million to Komen from its FI[gh}T for the Cure events. Assuming that Komen continues on its current path, it will use 19 percent of that $2.5 mil for research. I’m no expert on medical research, but based on my own experience with my medical bills, I’m guessing $475,000 won’t go very far toward finding a cure.

Wacoal has a line of underthings called B.Tempted. Looks to me like it is aimed at young, beautiful women who like a little pizzazz under their shirts.

btempted.wacoal-america.com

Nothing wrong with that, but when Wacoal uses its B.Tempted line to promote supposed good-works for my disease, then there’s something wrong. My message to the B.Tempted models and consumers is this: enjoy those perfectly round, nicely supported breasts now, because if you’re unlucky enough to be among the one in eight women diagnosed with breast cancer, you’ll never see the likes of those again. No, instead you’ll be facing something that looks like this:

The SCAR Project

Oh but don’t worry, that flat chest etched with red, raised, painful scars can be temporary. You won’t have to deal with the indignity of a being flat as a board in our breast-obsessed culture for long. Fleeting will be your struggle to find a bra that fits (whatcha doing about this problem, Wacoal?). Before long you’ll no longer spend anguished moments in your closet and countless dollars in your quest to find something to wear that doesn’t advertise your deficiency. If you opt to undergo even more surgeries to have reconstruction, that is. Then you might be facing something that looks like this:

The SCAR Project

There we go. All better now.

My second problem lies in the images Wacoal — and by default, Dillard’s — uses to promote the FI{gh}T FOR THE CURE. The ad in my Sunday paper was black and white, so not as eye-catching as the others, and it was a little less in-your-face overly sexualized.

A quick googleimages search, however, turned up some disturbing stuff:

One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Some 40,000 women in the Unites States will die from this disease this year alone. Some men will, too. How many of the one in eight can identify with the sirens in the Wacoal ads? How many of the 40,000 would be happy about and grateful for this type of campaign?

I am one of the one in eight, and I can do neither. I don’t identify with these models, and I think this type of advertising is shameful. It appeals to the lowest common denominator, and Wacoal should be ashamed.

Do we really need Victoria’s Secret-esque photos to advertise a breast cancer fundraiser? Is it really necessary to have such unrealistic, uber-glamorized marketing to get the message across? Would the event not sell without the model looking like she’s more suited to a striptease than to a growing health crisis? Why does it have to be about the breasts instead of the cancer?

Questions abound.

My blog friend Nancy at Nancy’s Point has asked some of these same questions:

“What other disease has the afflicted body part(s) displayed on articles of clothing with silly, even degrading commentary?

When did it become more about saving breasts than about cancer and saving lives?

Have we lost sight of what the original intent of all this awareness was?

Has breast cancer awareness merely morphed into a big business?

Is breast cancer being used? Are women being used? I think they are.

How did we let this happen? How did WOMEN let this happen?”

I’ll tell you how women let this happen: by going along with things like Fi[gh]t for the Cure. By seeing glossy, photoshopped images of young, thin, sexy women in frilly & lacy bras and somehow conflating that with philanthropy. By allowing companies like Wacoal to dictate the face of breast cancer.

Could Wacoal not get the message across by using a less-racy, less-sexualized image? How about something like this? She’s young, strong, fit, and wearing pink. Looks to me like she could KNOCKOUT breast cancer. There’s a hint of cleavage, a peek into the area of our discontent, without being so in-your-face. Why isn’t that enough? Would the public not be swayed by the campaign without the sizzle?