Monday, October 17, 2011

I (Heart) Boobies Bracelet Ban Rant

Recently a lot of schools have been working towards banning the famous I (Heart) Boobies bracelets, the same ones I wear in my profile picture.

For those of you who don't know, these bracelets are part of the Keep A Breast Foundation, a non profit which raises awareness and funds for breast cancer research.

Now, the big outcry from schools is that these bracelets cause a distraction, and are being worn as a fashion statement instead of a promotion for this cause. And I can see that. 

Seriously, go outside, walk up to a teenager, look them in the eye and say "Boobies".
They're gonna laugh. I know I would.

But what I get from this is, kids are gonna wear them. Maybe outside of school, maybe in school. And whether they wear it because it's hip and cool, or because they care, and support the cause, they're wearing it.

They're buying these products and promoting a cause, whether they mean to or not. And it's sad that this cause could be considered shallow like that, but it's getting it out there. What about the breast cancer walk shirts that say save second base? Should we get rid of those to?

As someone who has done the Breast Cancer Walk yearly, and buys these products and wears them, I'm just glad it's getting some light.

And I don't talk about this often, but what really got me into bra fitting, and boobs and writing this blog even, is a woman I met while working.

I'd only been a bra fit specialist for maybe a month, and while I certainly had a knack for it, I didn't feel any particular passion for it.

And one day a woman came in, and she politely refused my inquiries about assistance, and wandered the department looking distraught. A few minutes later I went over and asked again, because she looked so bewildered. She quietly told me that she didn't know her size, and was just looking. 

I offered to fit her, hoping that I could help her find the right size, and she declined.

I politely told her that it was really easy, she didn't have to remove any clothes, and it might save her a little trouble looking. Finally, she followed me to a fitting room and let me fit her. She had a larger band and small cup, so sizes were limited. She was also looking for a wireless bra, which cut out even more choices.

But something about the way she had agreed, so hesitant, and embarrassed, made me feel like I needed to help her in absolutely anyway I could. 

I darted around the department, pulling bras in every style and color I could find that would work for her. About twenty minutes after fitting her, she had tried on a variety of bras while I searched my stores online catalog to try and find any bras she could order at home that might fit her specifications.

When she came out of the fitting room holding the bras that worked and approached me, I noticed that she seemed to be tearing up. I handed her the sheet where I had written down the alternate styles, as well as my name and our stores number, stapled to a catalog of bras.

She suddenly started crying, and I was taken aback. All I had done was try to help her. I thought I had been polite and respectful, and I was truly worried that I had offended her in some way, made her feel more embarrassed, so I immediately started apologizing.

She stopped me, still gently crying, and told me not to be sorry. She told me that she had recently had a double mastectomy, and this was her first time buying bras that weren't through a medical company. She told me that she had been really worried and embarrassed, and that I had made the whole thing a lot easier for her, and that she was really glad for my help.
And I started crying too.

Some people look at my blog, and think that's it's all a big joke, and I'll admit, I do tend to linger on the funnier side of breasts. But I care.

I support this cause, and I even support those kids.

Because I know that someone out there cares. At least one of those kids wearing that bracelet actually cares, and it takes one person to make a change. It takes one person to point out a problem, and make a step towards fixing it, and maybe one of the kids wearing these bracelets now, even as a joke, will be that person. And the more we explain to them that these bracelets are funny, and also mean something, the more they'll understand.

To sum it up more clearly, here's an excerpt from a sample letter on the Keep A Breast Foundations website that kids can send to their schools.

"The Supreme Court standard governs freedom of expression in public schools today, with a few exceptions for exceptionally disruptive or drug-related speech. When worn on a wristband, my “I (Love) Boobies” phrase cannot be “disruptive,” and is considered to be protected speech. The Court went on to explicitly prohibit school authorities from taking preventative or disciplinary action “based upon an urgent wish to avoid the controversy which might result from the expression.”

Students such as myself to not believe that there is a controversy behind these bracelets that such a concern or fear is insufficient to justify a prohibition as they are widely accepted in the breast cancer community. Charaign Sesock, a spokeswoman for The American Cancer Society states: “The “I Love Boobies!” campaign is targeting teen years and college ages so that they can empower themselves to be advocates for their own bodies. If you can start raising awareness early on, it will only benefit them as they grow older.”"

Self expression is important, especially for a cause like this and this article pretty much sums up how I feel about the situation.
You can go here to read more about the foundation, purchase a bracelet or a shirt, or make a donation.


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