Oh, That Crazy, Sexy Breast Cancer


Funny how bits of our culture take on a whole new meaning after you’ve had breast cancer. Take the iconic song, “Bohemian Rhapsody” by the group Queen. I discovered the Muppets’ hilarious version of it on YouTube one day and posted it on Facebook, whereupon a number of my sistahs posted a variety of wry comments on how ironically meaningful the lyrics had become after having breast cancer:

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality.
Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see.
I’m just a poor [gal], I need no sympathy
Because it’s easy come, easy go,
Little high, little low,
Any way the wind blows
Doesn’t really matter to me,
To me.

I was getting dressed this morning, to go out and brave the 100-degree heat index to do a few errands, and I decided to wear a camisole with shorts so I wouldn’t sweat to death out there. And I couldn’t find my regular prosthesis. This happens more frequently than I’d like to admit, usually because I’m so sick of wearing it and the bra by the time I get home from work, that they are the first two things I fling off, along with my shoes, and I’m not always very tidy about where I fling them. So, I rummaged through my underwear drawer and found a silly item I’d forgotten I had, called a “cleavage cupcake,” sold for women who want to boost their natural assets. I’d bought it — well, them actually, because they came in a pair — while I was awaiting the arrival of my real prosthesis after surgery. It wasn’t exactly the right shape, but I shoved it in the hollow side of my bra anyway, laughing at how little difference it really made what I shoved in there — could have used a rolled up sock if I wanted to — because the only function it really served was to make me look “normal” and “symmetrical” and perhaps avoid a few distressed, intrusive double-takes while I was sashaying through CVS Pharmacy. When I got home, I took the above photo with my cell phone and added some Photoshop text, right before once again flinging the damn cupcake, along with the bra, onto the pile where my regular prosthesis is no doubt buried. And decided I really needed to finish this mostly pictorial post I’d started months ago about all the bloody nonsense out there, in the form of various fundraising and awareness efforts that try to sell the notion that somehow breast cancer is fun and sexy.

Is this the real life?

First, there are the teeshirts, so we can remind everyone that, really, the only important thing to remember about having cancer is our missing or altered body parts.

And if you’re not quite sure which body parts we’re referring to, here’s a photo of a little self-exam demonstration which will help you.

Then, there are the fundraising walks and races, where we can show off our spunk and sexiness, while raising money for organizations that promote awareness by selling chia pets, sports cars, and perfume.

Next, in the interest of full disclosure, here are the actual chia pets, a sports car, and the perfume, in case you were wondering if I was exaggerating. Oh, and a pink NASCAR racing outfit to go with Bobby Labonte’s #43 Susan G. Komen Dodge Charger; you could also get a collectable miniature of the car on race day to support “the Cure.”


Oh, and don’t worry. This little number on the left is only an accessory, not a fundraising item. And it’s available from a site called “Upscale Stripper,” so, you know, it’s not, like, totally trashy.

Then, there are the NFL players and cheerleaders, who’ve taken to wearing pink in October, none of whom, I’d wager, have probably ever had breast cancer.

Is this just fantasy?

And then, there’s my take on how to make breast cancer more sexy. With a few suggestions from my sister cancer rebels, I decided that if we really want to get the point across, we needed to update some of the icons of breast awareness and sexual exploitation that we already have.

First of all, let’s do something about those truck mudflaps.

Next, instead of those boring chemo-caps and hospital gowns, let’s just sex up the whole infusion process.

And finally, maybe we could get Sports Illustrated to publish a special issue in October.

And, really, I do think certain spokeswomen could jazz up their public image, don’t you? Heaven knows, I’ve tried to set an example.

Oh, and in case you’ve revisited this post, yes, I did update it — just a teeny bit. Next time I go to CVS, maybe I’ll wear my prosthesis on the outside. And take another picture…


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This entry was written by Kathi, posted on Saturday, July 23, 2011 at 06:07 pm, filed under Attitude, Fighting the Pink Peril, Survivorship and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

33 Responses to “Oh, That Crazy, Sexy Breast Cancer”

  1. Sexy breast cancer gets a makeover! Your capacity to cut through the taken-for-granted assumptions in popular culture is creative, provocative, and on the mark. I especially love the message about sexualizing women for the purposes of prurient consumption. That’s what the PINK MACHINE is all about after all. The ’cause’ is a convenient excuse to sell stuff, have fun, ogle women’s breasts, and gain women’s consent in their own exploitation. Very crafty. In the meantime, well meaning people are caught in an institutionalized maelstrom of pink displays and branding portfolios. Fortunately, more and more people are waking up to smell the pink!

  2. You are one wonderful brillant funny woman!!! I love ya!!

  3. Gayle, thank you, thank you, thank you. At times, when I was preparing these images, I wondered if I’d gone over the edge. But I know it’s not me, it’s this insane culture that’s gone over the edge. ALL of the culture, which still promotes gender stereotyping and sexualization in ever more insidious ways. Including breast cancer. What boggles my mind is how many women don’t get this. No need to mention any names. We all know of far too many women who have benefitted from feminism, only to turn around and stab their sisters in the back.

  4. I love you, too, my dear, dear Sherry.

  5. Kathi, this was just totally awesome! Fun and witty, great read! Love ya!

  6. OK, let’s just say you HAVE gone over the edge, or ’round the bend, or WHEREVER. First off, don’t forget you’re NOT ALONE! In fact, there seems to be quite a storm brewing amongst the virtual masses. And second, it is a society that can’t face the reality of this disease that has put you (and myself, and a cast of 1000s) there! Just my two cents…

    P.S. These boobs were made for walkin’…SERIOUSLY? I haven’t had chemo in nearly 10 years, but THAT is enough to make me sick all over again!

  7. Thanks, Deb, Brenda & Lori, for going over the edge with me.

    Lori, not only is the name of that walk sickening, but it’s an anatomical impossibility. And worse, just think that it was some group of local Komen volunteers, possibly survivors themselves, who came up with it. Makes me shudder to contemplate.

    Brenda, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were pole dancers for the cure…I have a wonderful friend who took pix of her own satire on the pole dance with her IV stand during chemo — wearing long red PJ’s!!

  8. The whole sexualization and fundraising approach to breast cancer has gone too far. Only thing we’re missing are Las Vegas pink pole dancers who’re claiming to raise money for breast cancer “awareness.”

    You’re right on target with this post. Nothing about breast cancer is glam or easy, and there’s certainly nothing sexy about breast cancer. I never had a prosthesis, just stuffed socks in my bra, and no one but me was the wiser.

  9. Culture jam!!!! Brilliant as usual Amazon!

  10. Kathi,

    Count me in as going over the edge with you! This brilliant posting made me laugh, but it also had a very sobering message. All this pink nonsense and the sexy, glam cancer crap is really harmful to our culture. I think it all stems from sexualizing women/girls.

    And I have a prosthesis I love because it does make me symmetrical, and after years of feeling like a flippin’ freak show with a distorted breast, I finally felt good about myself. It’s a personal decision, but there’s no right way to think about whether or not to get a prosthesis.

  11. Love it. Thanks for this.

    (PS- Chia pets? Really? Strangely appropriate, sort of. At least considering what my head looked like post-chemo).

  12. Thanks, sisters!

    Emily, here’s a link to a collage of pink crap. The “Grow-A-Head” pink Chia pets are in the upper right area: http://accidentalamazon.com/images/pink-stuff.jpg They get a nod from me, too! LOL

    Beth, it is good to be able to look something like normal in our clothes. And not draw stares. Activism is fine, but I don’t want to be on the job every moment I’m in public. My prosthesis cracks me up; I hate wearing any bra or prosthesis, always have, but I have a grudging affection for my prosthesis. I also enjoy whipping it out on occasion when I do public speaking or just want to cheer someone up. The main one does look like a raw chicken cutlet, which is sort of hilarious. Also, I learned early on that they actually stay put better inside a regular bra, not one of those pocket things, which are anyway so high cut and unlovely, they never fit me right and make me look like I’m an old biddy.

    Suzanne, if we could copy all the swatch patterns in Adobe Illustrator, we could launch a whole new line of fashion LE sleeves. 🙂

  13. Oh My God! That is too funny! And I totally appreciate you put a lymphedema sleeve on the bunny!

  14. I love this, Kathi. When I get home from work I fling my bra, with two prostheses tucked into the cups, anywhere I want. I particularly enjoy throwing it into my gym bag before a workout hoping someone will see me doing it. I would love to see their face. Because I have two of those inserts, I’m always symmetrical, unless I want to have mismatched sizes to see if anyone will notice as he or she stares at my chest and wonders.

    I really like your doctored-up renditions of this whole boobie craze, especially seeing these women sport LympheDIVA sleeves, the ultimate in fashion chic.

    You rock!
    Jan

  15. You DO rock! Excellent post, right on the money! It’s a good thing that we are able to laugh about it instead of crying and turning pink with rage…

    Your site is terrific, like Gina’s 🙂

    Catherine

  16. For a while, fellow bloggers on breastcancer.org’s website were sharing stupid pink ribbon products. My “favorite” was the pink ribbon gun. Really.

    There is also an infantalizing aspect to BC. All of the cutsie-pie pink ribbon stuff like teddy bears and rubber duckies. Seriously, what other illness would prompt people to give adults babyish stuff like that?

  17. Nancy, that is really me. 😉 The cupcake, however, was Photoshopped in.

    Nancy C, I’m thinking I should add another row of sheer and utter crap. See my previous post: The Cure for Pink. I was an early fan of that thread you refer to, “Pink, not just for Pepto Bismol anymore.” Rock and Otter are two of my fave peeps still. xxoo

  18. You, going over the edge, never! This post is just great. No one does “snark” like you do, Kathi. Snark on!

    My favorites are the two photos of you (is that really you?) and Nancy B! You are definitely doing your part on all counts, Nancy, not so much!!!

  19. Kathi, love this and please do more! I’ve been tempted to slap a “Breast Cancer Awareness” sticker over my flat side when I go without a prosthesis.

  20. OMG, that was a hilarious post. Kathi – you rock, girl. XOXO Claudia

  21. Excellent!

  22. […] Uneasy Pink and The Accidental Amazon are on a pink roll this past week, almost drowning in a sea of the stuff and they have the images […]

  23. Kathi,

    I had to revisit this site for the little changes. All I can say is that you are a flippin’ genius.

    My favorite one is the Sports Illustrated cover you created. That is simply amazing….

  24. Gracias, chicas!!

    Thanks to Katie’s recent post, Warm Up Your Eyeballs, I’m feeling some further pictorial inspiration. Oh, what shall I ever do in the unlikely event that we eradicate this nonsense from the face of the earth?? THROW A HUGE PARTY!! And you are all invited.

  25. This is great! Made my day.
    Linda

  26. I would buy a truck just so I could have the mastectomy mudflaps! Thank you!!

  27. LOL, Robyn! Me, too!!

  28. […] Oh, That Crazy, Sexy Breast Cancer by the Accidental Amazon What’s In A Name? by the Accidental Amazon Boobies For Fun & Profit by Gayle Sulik Think About Pink by Peggy Orenstein […]

  29. LOVE IT ALL!!!

    I would have missed this post the first time around. I only got involved in the blog world a few days before you posted this. I’m so glad you pointed me here from the comment on my rant about boobstagram…. waiting for you to put your special twist on THAT….

    Interesting and bizarre? The photo of G Rancic which was taken in 2010 if my eyes are reading it right. Inotherwords, before her dx. And, fyi-there are some on twitter who have pointed out she is marketing herself for the cause. She’s a “sister” but I have to do a little investigating here…… She’s upset some of our mets sisters…… And if they get upset, I don’t care WHY OR WHO, I got their back. Every Single Time. #FearlessFriends …….

    xoxox

  30. xoxo, AM! Yes, #fearlessfriendsforever.

  31. I love the Mudflap girls!
    And surely you’ve heard about the new Bald Barbie?
    http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=bald+Barbie&id=C9F27BFB8009346B747C87F44CE77F85B34AFB8E&FORM=IQFRBA#x0y0

    OK, in all fairness — she’s not just for breast cancer.

  32. Gawd…I think it’s icky, really. Especially this one:
    http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=bald+Barbie&view=detail&id=4BFC9C7599EBEE9895DBD5F7B97E41F1837B2791&first=0

    Deserves a post — when I can get to it.

  33. […] Recently Dina Goldstein’s photo essay struck at the Disney princess myth by exposing what the series called Fallen Princesses. This particular photo shows Rapunzel as a very youthful cancer patient with her golden locks shorn. The image is starkly evocative  and apt, as literally documented recently by David Jay’s Scar project. Thirty year old women with no family history of breast cancer, have no business showing up at the oncologist’s office. Goldstein’s image is successful without being sexualized as are many of the images in Pink-tober ads to promote breast cancer awareness. […]

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