No need to wait for October for Breast Cancer Awareness campaigns that are woefully out of step with what raising awareness around the disease should actually look like! The U.K.-based CoppaFeel! joined forces with The Sun's "Page 3" for a 6-month partnership to "encourage more women to know their boobs." On paper, it sounds like a worthy ambition. But when you SEE just how The Sun chose to package the campaign -- with overtly sexualized images of skinny, fit, topless women -- it's no wonder breast cancer charities and organized efforts such as one called "No More Page 3" have come out swinging against it. One woman in particular is making headlines for taking a stand against the misguided effort.
33-year-old Sarah Perry was diagnosed just a few weeks ago with breast cancer. In response to the "Page 3 v Breast Cancer - Check 'em Tuesday" campaign, Perry published an open letter on her blog yesterday, which pretty much sums up precisely why it's so infuriating.
The fact is, as Perry points out in her letter, "breast cancer is being used ... as a gimmick." Not only do images that portray women as sex objects have nothing to do with breast cancer, but as Perry says, they do a really great job at making women feel worse about their bodies than anything else. " As Perry writes, "All of the other sexualized images of women in the media ... were making me feel inadequate and ugly on a daily basis. I hated my body. Small boobs, thunder thighs, wobbly arse, pasty pale skin, etc. I wished I was beautiful and had a better body."
Perry spoke with The Stir exclusively about how her insecurities morphed into inspiration to write her now internationally-viral letter. "I've recently met and made friends with many women in their 30s with breast cancer," she explains. "They are smart, funny, brave, strong and beautiful --and struggling to come to terms with changes to their bodies, such as scarring and losing one or both breasts on top of dealing with having a life threatening illness. Body confidence issues regularly dominate conversations, more so than matters of physical health."
For instance, one woman shared with Perry that she has a 'No More Page 3' T-shirt, but does not have the confidence to wear it any more since her bilateral mastectomy, because she feels it will draw attention to the fact that she has lost her breasts. "This is incredibly sad, and I think the sexualization of women in the media has a lot to answer for in terms of making women uncomfortable and embarrassed in their own bodies," Perry notes. She is so, so right.
Instead of Maxim-style models, Coppafeel.org, The Sun, and the countless other organizations that are lazily, irresponsibly leaning on sex appeal to sell breast cancer awareness would be serving the cause so much better by featuring women like Perry and the community she is now an active part of. "Other young women with breast cancer are Superwomen to me," she says. "They can speak honestly and eloquently about being diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer in a way that will not only grab the attention of others, but also give them the motivation to be breast aware, and the hope and inspiration they need when diagnosed and being treated. I would not have made it through the last few weeks without their support."
In short, we need to hear more from REAL women who are on the front-lines of the war against breast cancer. That's Sarah Perry. Hence why her letter is 100 times more powerful than any topless babe will ever be.
How do you personally feel about campaigns like this one in The Sun?
Image via Sarah Perry