Another Breast Cancer Awareness Month has come and gone, but the discussion is far from over. This year’s debate was over the awareness movement itself; the main question being: have we gone too pink? In a piece for Harvard Business Review, Stefano Puntoni shares the recent discontent with everything pink. He warns that the focus on gender, particularly through the use of pink, is dangerous. “You’re raising the idea that this is a female thing. It’s pink; it’s for you.” Organizations such as Think Before You Pink argue that these campaigns only undermine the severity of the disease.
These points aside, awareness campaigns are still very important – they raise money for important organizations, support those who are dealing with the disease, and promote low pressure self exams. The campaigns were especially important after a long time of the disease being dismissed as simply a “woman’s issue.” This prejudice and misconception resulted in limited resources and a host of misunderstandings. In other words, Breast Cancer Awareness campaigns have served a very important purpose, but how can we make sure that they are properly addressing all the necessary issues?
Back in 2011, artist Maisa Chaves came up with a new and light-hearted way to spread the word on personal exams for advertising agency DDB in Mozambique. Chaves’ collection includes DC as well as Marvel superheroines, all displaying different techniques for self exams. Here it was – the ultimate definition of a person standing up for their own needs. When I first saw the images, I felt a sense of support and camaraderie, not a sense of shame for forgetting to massage my breasts every once in a while. Self exams are important, but just because a person gets the disease does not mean they neglected to take better care of themselves. With superheroines like Wonder Woman and Storm, the message is clear: self care is important, but it’s a joint effort to make sure that those struggling with the disease get the necessary support.
Personally, I’m just waiting for a series with Batman and the Hulk. There’s no reason men can’t participate in promoting self care – not only is it a sign of solidarity, but it is also a reminder that everyone can get breast cancer.