Leave it to a bunch of high school administrators to be freaked out by the mere mention of the word "breasts." The head cheese at an Arizona high school has put the kibosh on the school's cheerleaders plan to raise money and awareness for the breast cancer cause at football games because it's "inappropriate." Way to make a bunch of teenage girls feel like acknowledging their femininity is a bad thing.
The girls were going to wear pink shirts that urged people to "Feel For Lumps, Check Your Bumps." But their principal says that crosses "appropriate boundaries of a school setting." Really? I spend a fair amount of time with teenage girls. "Bumps" is probably the tamest euphemism you'll hear for the twins, the tatas, the cans, the melons, should I go on?
This tempest in a teapot strikes me as particularly funny because I remember the mammogram mobile pulling up to my school when we were kids. The teachers filed out one by one to get checked. My recollection is so hazy that I know I must have been pretty young -- certainly not high school age -- and yet no one made an attempt to hide the fact that breasts exist from us.
Because, folks, they do! They're in no short supply in a high school, where most girls have been budding since they were 10 or 11 (the age is dropping in America, so many even sprouted at 8 or 9). And when a girl starts going to the OB/GYN -- usually in the late teen years -- she's going to get her first instruction in doing exactly what those t-shirts advise: breast self exams. We can't pretend them away, no matter how much they make a high school principal blush.
Putting them in the breast cancer context, however, changes the conversation. It sets girls up for a healthy habit, but it also reminds them that there's a lot more to your boobs than making teenage boys' eyes pop out. They're a part of the body, one that can contract cancer, one that can feed a baby, one that does more than fill out the top of your shirt. Talk about breast cancer, and you can empower girls to take control of their own bodies. Talk about it in a high school setting, and you can force boys to look at the breasts as more than something to drool over.
When are school administrators going to learn that the best way to make a girl's changing body into a joke in the halls is to continue to treat "breasts" like they're a taboo subject?
Image via Beth Rankin/Flickr