Monday, June 14, 2010

I can't decide if I'm offended. I probably am. But should I be?

A few weeks ago, my students started wearing these bracelets. 

I was shocked at first, when I read what they said. 

And when I questioned a student about the meaning of the rubber bracelet, she explained that she had lost a grandmother to breast cancer and was supporting the campaign for a cure.

A few moments of Google researching thereafter, I learned about the Keep-A-Breast organization.  And I learned that these cute little bracelets with the awesome, vintage font were just $3 each.

Often a sucker for trends, I now wanted one. 

"White with pink letters, please," I told the guy behind the counter at Zumiez, who was, thankfully, my age or even older (which is comforting when you're 31 in a store where every other customer is 13). 

I walked out of the store, excited to have a cool, trendy bracelet, wondering if I had just further objectified the very gender we were trying to protect.  I knew that I would never let my students see me wear it.  But, oh goodness, what would my mother think if she saw it?

Instinctively, I knew that--if I had kids--I wouldn't let them wear these bracelets.  No way.

Was I being hypocritical?  Yes.  :-(  Was I letting my own conservative values stand in the way of contributing to a worthy cause?  Perhaps.  Moreover, should I even have to compromise my values if I want to contribute?  Of course not.

Still questioning if my $3 was wisely spent, I went back online for further research.  And, to my disappointment, I learned (in the fine print) that the proceeds of the bracelet sales go toward breast cancer awareness, not research. 

This means that--through art, music, and fashion--the Keep-A-Breast Foundation would be selling clothes and accessories while asking everyone to "love boobies," feel them often, and to use the "power of art to communicate complex feelings and thoughts about the female form" (Keep A Breast  2010).

If I were a cancer researcher, I would be offended.  This company is cashing in on the good intentions of people's hearts, who most likely believe that their dollars are going toward medical research and not the production of more hooded sweatshirts.

So I'm now able to answer the question I posed in the title of this blog.  I am offended.  I have been objectified.  And I fell prey to their clever marketing scheme.  I thought I was supporting breast cancer research with the purchase of a cute little $3 bracelet, but I have done no such thing.  :-(