More Than Boobs: Breast Cancer Awareness Media Coverage

By Haley Mills
Image via Public Domain

    October, breast cancer awareness month, was filled with pink promotional items as well as items with slogans meant to draw attention to breast cancer and the importance of finding a cure. InkHead, a popular printing company, lists 50 of the best and most commonly used slogans of their customers. Among the most popular phrases were, “I stare because I care,” “Busting our buns for boobs” and “Save second base.” All of these phrases take the focus off of saving the lives of women and direct it towards saving breasts, which is not the priority of doctors who are treating patients as whole people.

    In order for advertising companies to use their influence in a more positive, non-sexual way, they must change how they phrase slogans that are found on their merchandise. Slogans such as “Early detection saves lives,”“Not just surviving, thriving” and “Tell breast cancer to step aside” are all popular slogans that were more sexually neutral. These neutral slogans promote early detection and empower breast cancer patients and survivors to continue to fight.

    In addition to oversexualization of breast cancer and breasts in advertising, the media is adding to the problem by making treatment and donating money to help finding treatment its focus instead of highlighting the importance of preventative care. According to a Michigan State University study conducted in 2004, 31 percent of media coverage focused on treatment, 18 percent on preventative care, 12 percent on environmental factors of breast cancer and the remaining 39 percent focused on organizations that are dedicated to preventing breast cancer, such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation. These statistics show how little the media is working to decrease the risk of women developing breast cancer. There is too much focus on individual foundations and too little focus on methods that could prevent women from ever having the disease.

    To actually work toward a cure, the media must use its influence to send a different message about breast cancer. Women need to be more informed of the risk factors for breast cancer and how to avoid these risks using preventative measures. Progress can be made, but only if the media and advertising companies work together to send a more informative message about breast cancer.

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