Breastfeeding and Breast Cancer Awareness Month

by Alissa on October 14, 2010

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I find myself sort of disappointed in my Facebook friends recently.  Many of you may have noticed the barrage of “I like it on…” status updates the past few days.  These all seem like sexual innuendos (I like it on the table, etc.) And many of you probably remember back in January when every other woman on Facebook posted the color of her bra as her status.

Both of these memes are supposed to raise awareness for breast cancer.  Don’t look at me like that… I don’t get it either.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I understand why people are trying to call attention to it, but I just don’t like the way they are doing it.

I have two issues with this.  The first is that it excludes men.  Men can get breast cancer too!  Most men do not wear bras or have purses, so they aren’t included.  Men raise money for breast cancer research.  They support their wives and mothers and daughters when they battle breast cancer.  Rather than posting what color your bra is or where you “like it” why not post something informative like this study which shows that breastfeeding for at least 2 years lowers the typical woman’s breast cancer risk by 50%?  Or this study which shows that if you have a family history of breast cancer, breastfeeding for just 3 months can cut your chances of getting breast cancer by 50% and be just as beneficial as taking breast cancer preventing medication for FIVE years?  Women AND Men can benefit from information like that.  I think a lot of husbands would be more supportive of extended breastfeeding if they knew these facts.  And at least for our family, my husband’s support through the rough patches of breastfeeding has been invaluable.

My second issue is the sexual innuendo of the whole thing.  You post the color of your bra, and most guys (understandably) have a mental picture of you in that color bra.  Or start thinking about bras in general.  Which leads to thinking about breasts as sexual.  Now, I am not saying that breasts are not sexual, because they definitely can be.  I’m just saying that a lot of people who don’t support breastfeeding have hang-ups that involve the sexual nature of breasts.  I know men who think breastfeeding is gross because they think it is basically just a sexual act.  I know people who think a woman breastfeeding in public is akin to pornography.  All of these issues stem from the over-sexualization of breasts.  So when one of the best ways to prevent breast cancer is breastfeeding and you are “raising breast cancer awareness” by sexualizing breasts, I just don’t get it.  We can support breast cancer awareness AND breastfeeding at the same time.

I know that breastfeeding is only one facet of the fight against breast cancer, but I think it is a pretty big part. As an attachment mom who believes passionately in the benefits of breastfeeding if possible, I wish we could start a huge Facebook revolution of our own.  How many people are you friends with on Facebook?  Too many, if you’re like me.  Imagine how many people we could inform about breastfeeding and its links to breast cancer prevention if we all changed our statuses to:

I like it when people learn about the link between breastfeeding and a lower breast cancer risk.

or

I like it when my choice to breastfeed also lowers my risk of breast cancer by 50%

Mine says:

Alissa Smith is sort of tired of the “I like it on” posts for breast cancer awareness. I don’t think sexual innuendos are going to enlighten anyone about it. (And then I commented on my own status with some links to relevant breastfeeding research and the lower breast cancer risk).

Think about it.  Think before you post your bra color or where you “like it”.  Maybe even change your status to something that will help promote breastfeeding and help fight breast cancer at the same time.  Include a link or two to relevant research.

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Alissa (15 Posts)

Alissa writes at A New History where she blogs about the challenge of authentic living with her husband, Levi and her almost two year old son, Solomon.


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