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The Problem With “Save the Tatas”

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at C of C chapter.

Breast cancer is a horrible disease that takes lives every day, and that makes breast cancer awareness extremely important. Many things have been done for breast cancer awareness, and a very popular one is the “Save the Tatas” campaign. Things like “Save the Tatas”, the “I <3 boobies" bracelets, "Save Second Base", "Save a Life, Grope Your Wife" all obviously have good intentions with trying to spread awareness for breast cancer, however, they are problematic. Breast cancer is still cancer - a horrible, life-threatening disease - so why is it being sexualized? Why does this disease have to be sexualized for people to take it seriously and spread awareness?

            With the arrival of October, everywhere you go, you see seas of pink with these sexual sayings plastered over everything. Saying things like “save the tatas” and “save second base” implies that women are only good for this one body part – their breasts. It implies that this is all they are valued for. What about women with breast cancer who have to have mastectomies? What if their “tatas” can’t be saved? Does that make them less of a woman? Does that mean they’ve lost their worth? No, absolutely not, but imagine being a woman – a survivor of breast cancer who had to have a double mastectomy – walking around every day seeing these slogans plastered on t-shirts, stickers, and bracelets. Lara Huffman, a writer for the Huffington post and breast cancer survivor says her body image was forever changed, and that every time she sees these she’s “constantly reminded of what exists under my shirt – scars, stretch marks and silicone”.

            “Save the tatas” isn’t about saving the woman, it’s about saving a part of the woman. By saying “save the tatas”, whether you realize it or not, you aren’t saying “You are valued as a person and I don’t want this disease to take your life”, you’re saying “I don’t want this disease to destroy this one part of your body, because that body part is what makes me attracted to you and that’s what defines your worth”. So when men and women alike walk around sporting their “my girlfriend has great tatas!” and “don’t let cancer steal second base!” it’s tasteless and honestly, just offensive. Women are already objectified in almost every aspect of our culture – music, television, movies, magazines – and now being objectified for their cancer. Cancer. FREAKING CANCER. Cancer just like prostate cancer, or liver cancer, or brain cancer, or mouth cancer, or heart disease, or leukemia or any other disease you can think of. It’s not something that needs to be sexualized.

            Not to mention, breast cancer doesn’t only affect women! Men can get breast cancer too! By turning breast cancer into something sexual and all about “the tatas” instead of something medical and serious, it’s made men getting breast cancer thought of as embarrassing. It’s been made to feel emasculating. So not only are women made to feel like less of a woman, men are made to feel as less of a man. This is dehumanizing, and a problem.

            Maybe you proudly sport a “save the tatas” shirt or an “I <3 boobies” bracelet – lots of people do – you’re not a bad person. You probably haven’t even thought about all this: about how these provocative slogans could be problematic. Everyone grows and changes and comes to realize and fix problematic behavior. So, maybe you just didn’t know, but now you do, and it’s time to be a little more sensitive and stop trying to raise awareness by being derogatory and “funny”. There’s nothing funny about breast cancer and there’s nothing sexual about a disease that can kill you.

Writing is what I love most and want to eventually make a career out of. I want to travel the world and write about what I see and experience.