Saturday, January 9, 2010

Okay, I dissent...

I do not think that it was the world's greatest evil to have posted a certain undergarment color on Facebook. A stunt related to Breast Cancer Awareness? Yes. But evil? No. A joke aimed at the millions of women (and even some men) that have suffered breast cancer? No to that also.

But what is coming out of the bra-haha (as one commenter on one of the many comments about this issue coined) seems to be a lot of huffing and puffing at a straw house that was built by every one of us. Here are the arguments I've seen so far:

1. Posting your bra color only leads men (and women) to picture you in such color and such garment.

Okay, so if instead I post a status of breast cancer awareness that says "Remember to get your mammograms, girls!" Am I then inviting men (and women) to picture me getting that purely diagnostic, medical test done? We all know what a bra is and what women look like in them. Have you walked through Wal*Mart lately? Turned on primetime television? Opened a women's magazine? Been to a movie? And we all know what a mammogram is from the many jokes, women's health news, and magazine articles regularly posted, published and produced this time of year.

If the only thing both "awareness" statements have in common is bosoms, then why all the heaving? Why does one statement garner praise but the other invectives of immodesty? Could it possibly be that evil comes from within instead of from without?

If our real dispute with people is the immodesty of it all, then by all means, let's truly do something about the immodesty present everywhere. From fashion to television. From advertisements to movies. From magazines in the check out lines to just trying to walk through the grocery store without visual assault. That would be true action against immodesty.

But no, we'll (I include myself) will probably just continue to pick and choose what is immodest according to our personal standards. And that's where every single one of us goes terribly wrong. True modesty will never issue from our standards. God alone sets all the standards of righteousness.

2. Posting a bra color offends the numerous women who have suffered from breast cancer consequences and can no longer wear bras.

Okay, let's ban all tennis shoes ads because there are scores of men and women returning from war with missing limbs and they will no longer be able to wear tennis shoes. That means canceling 5Ks to raise money for wounded veterans because seeing that reminds them they cannot run anymore.

Let's ban the sale of milk and all dairy products or even those ads with cows in them that really are about chicken but could remind someone that milk comes from cows because the numbers of people with lactose intolerance is clearly on the rise. Let's rid the world of sound for the deaf population and pictures for the blind. Let's all drink the Kool-aid.

Because guess what? Someone, somewhere has suffered a particular something at some point in their lives that within their present daily life of this daily world will definitely come across something that will remind them of that tragedy or crisis or sorrow. And we wouldn't want to seek to be overcomers. That takes work and humility and courage. Instead, let us once again put on the mantle of victimization and hypersensitivity. They are like a Snuggie.

And before you load both guns regarding that last paragraph, I know the ills of both hypersensitivity and feeling like a victim. I have been both. I am not denigrating suffering or consequences or tragedies at all. The facts stand that into every life these terrible things come in some form. The issue is ultimately larger than our personal feelings. If God has allowed a sorrow, then He requires that we respond to that sorrow. His way. And again, not with a response according to our own standards.

3. Posting a bra color is not an effective breast cancer awareness statement.

Umm, really? I'd suggest that it's probably been one of the most successful campaigns from the sheer amount of words (including these) that have discussed, debated and dissented. Mercy. Those yogurt people and the pink ribbon people are really going to have to work to surpass this one.

For every comment that said how "stupid" how "foolish" how "immodest", I saw a similar proportion of comments from women who said they then did their self-exam, they called a friend to remind her, they prayed for a friend in the midst of the struggle, they scheduled their mammogram, or they had the chance to tell a younger woman why all the fuss and colors.

Granted, the meme may not have been your awareness campaign to support. But it seems to be head in the sand hubris to believe that it didn't work at all. Even by everyone being all lathered up about it, awareness of many critical points is being brought forth. From getting the necessary diagnostics done to respectful support of those undergoing or recovering from treatment.

4. Posting a bra color is a useless form of awareness when action is really what is needed.

Umm, action can only come from awareness. And there is always a younger generation behind us that until *this* becomes their personal issue, will need the awareness campaigns and three day walks and pink ribbons and yogurt lids to remind them to be and stay active. We're a short attention span people.

5. Posting a bra color is too much information even in a social media format.

You know, this one probably gets my goat the most. Because it's a classic case of wanting to slice the cake both ways. By the sheer reality of social media, its purposes, its intents, its daily practices, every single one of us with a social media account has willingly participated in the too much information agreement. Take just one friend's average Facebook post or blog entry and ask yourself if she would ever have called you to tell you that information. Usually not.

Or better yet, how many of your social media friends have you even actually talked to in person or by phone in the last year? Three-fourths? Half? A dozen? If not for the social media we have voluntarily joined, some of us wouldn't even have the too much information of the yearly Christmas card from some of these "friends".

The point being that even if we boldly stand on a platform of never posting about ourselves anything we wouldn't willingly say in person, that still doesn't erase the fact that we participate in silent agreement to the too much information pact by merely reading other people's postings. It's as much like a surreptitious glance at the tabloids in the check out lanes. This time, though, it's more personal, because we know these people. They are our "friends".

Again, any amount of self-righteousness stone throwing at the neighbors cannot help but ricochet into your own glass house.

I posted my color. In support of those many women I personally know that have fought and are fighting breast cancer. I have mailed in yogurt lids and participated in a 5K walk for breast cancer. I have also donated money to the cause of research. I have a scheduled mammogram this month, and I regularly forget to do my personal exams no matter how good intentioned I try to be about them.

I realize that's probably too much information for some. It's part of my self-righteous stone throwing exercise. Here's hoping that every house will shatter.


  1. You go girl!! It would be good for lots of stuff to shatter...

  2. thank you. You dissect very well, and I thoroughly enjoy thinking about your thoughts.

  3. Thanks for thinking this out for me. ;-)

  4. I suspect there would not have been the same controversy had Lance Armstrong asked men to post their choice of boxer or brief to raise awareness and support for those men who've suffered testicular cancer.

    And in regard to taste and modesty, there's always the pink ribbon bumper sticker which proudly reads: "Save the tatas!"

    So stated by at least one person who sent you that meme.

  5. Okay, okay, I get your points and appreciate your tirade! However, I dissent from your dissent (respectfully and humbly) because I am one that doesn't want to know if you're wearing a black and white polka dot bra with a little bow in the center (yep, read that status). Don't want my fifteen year old to read it, either. If I'm a prude with my head in the sand, then I guess that's what I am! The whole thing's silly, in my opinion!

    Friends, though, right?

  6. Friends? Absolutely. I do not think you're a prude at all. My point was about the false modesty issues that want to boil all of the moral evils of the world down to a "color" rather than deal with the heart issue of choosing our own standards as we see fit. One article I read had the implication of "It's not your business until I say it is, and then it's my freedom of self expression." Having it both ways isn't really a standard.

    I thought about the boys thing too. Us moms of them can't help but do so, I guess. I decided that if asked by my son, I'd want to know the "why" he wanted to know over the "what". I can deal with the "what" facts fairly easily. Making sure their heart is being rightly trained in the "whys"? That's a sanctifying work of myself, and them, in progress. And one where I ask God for His daily forgiveness of my failures.

  7. Whew! What a relief! I just keep thinking of my newly-FB'ed son, 15, who is friends with nearly every woman in our church. Mrs. So-n-So wears BLACK?! How's that for a mental image! :-) I know how boys' minds work and while we definitely seek to address the "why's" I don't want him unnecessarily distracted by the "what," particularly as boys are so visual. Does he need to know the girl who sits next to him in algebra wears hot pink? No! Why not post "I got my mammogram today" or "I did the monthly self exam"--seems to be a little more effective in both raising awareness and addressing preventative measures.

    But, as I said, the whole deal is silly. But, you're right, at least we're talking.