Tuesday 25 October 2016

Baring boobs for the lads: I mean breast cancer! Breast Cancer!

Some ways of raising breast-cancer awareness really aren't worth it, thanks

Ciara Kelly

Published 19/10/2015 | 02:30

They're off: Big brother Housemate Sarah Greenwood joined Miss Bikini Ireland 2015 hopefuls on Harcourt Street to show support for Breast Cancer Awareness Day by removing their bras!
They're off: Big brother Housemate Sarah Greenwood joined Miss Bikini Ireland 2015 hopefuls on Harcourt Street to show support for Breast Cancer Awareness Day by removing their bras!

Scrolling through my timeline on Twitter recently I came upon a picture of a photo-shoot of topless models on Harcourt St. The girls were standing in their bikini bottoms and stilettos, literally freezing theirs asses off, while waving their bikini tops in one hand and attempting to cover their breasts with the other.

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They were the entrants for the Miss Bikini Ireland contest, who insisted they were taking their tops off to raise awareness of breast cancer - and, for some reason, needed to stand in their knickers in the street to do so.

Raising awareness is an interesting concept and has been widely bastardised by various entities. If you are raising awareness of a little-known cancer, then there may be a benefit in awareness-raising. But my guess is, despite these scantily clad women's best efforts, not one extra person is now aware of breast cancer - largely because almost everyone is aware of it already - so simple awareness-raising is worthless.

Miss Bikini's organiser, Gary Ryan's LinkedIn profile lists one of his skills as 'bikini'. Mr Ryan has said it's true no actual breast cancer charity was aligned with his topless photo-shoot, but "It's more to raise awareness than anything else" Awareness of what, remains the question.

No breast cancer charity received any money or endorsed this event. So did it actually achieve its goal of raising awareness of the best known cancer in the Western world or simply increase the profile of a little known beauty contest I'd certainly never heard of till I saw the racy photos? Can anyone just take their top off now on a glamour shoot and say, "It's ok - it's for breast cancer"?

And if the dual agenda was to promote a bikini contest, then think about how monstrous that is. It means this beauty pageant has now appropriated breast cancer and breast-cancer support to market themselves. Using the natural empathy we feel for women, who in many cases have lost their own breasts or indeed died, to promote a contest, where half naked women walk around in in their underwear. This ploy, far from being pro-woman, would risk hijacking one of the biggest killers of women in a cynical advertising exercise for a sexist anachronism - truly a new low.

But even if it wasn't as crass or malign as that, how do you think the one in ten Irish women who experience breast cancer - many of whom have lost their breasts - feel about 20-somethings coyly flashing their perfect pert breasts to raise awareness?

Because you would never see a topless photo shoot on Harcourt St. of breast cancer sufferers - despite the fact that that actually would raise awareness. Indeed, many social media sites and the like constantly take down photos of mastectomy scars, often covered in pretty tattoos - in an act of beautiful defiance - citing 'sexual' as the reason for their removal. The fact that they leave up bikini shots and wet T-shirt competition photos belies their aversion to 'sexual'. And exposes this as a lie. An inversion of the truth - where sexy is good and not sexy is banned on the pretense that it's sexual. And where women have little say in how they're presented.

And as for Gary Ryan and his lovely girls on Harcourt St, bravely shivering in their drawers to raise awareness, we are indeed very aware of what you're doing.

And from all us women - thanks a lot.


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