Is Breast Cancer Awareness Offensive?

People are up in arms about breast cancer T-shirts an Arizona cheerleading squad wanted to wear. Am I missing something?

Ok, so. I just read this article. Twice. And then I sent it to a colleague to see if she could tell me what I’m missing. But here I am, still baffled.

I simply can’t figure out why everyone’s so up in arms about the breast cancer awareness T-shirts a bunch of high school cheerleaders in Arizona wanted to wear to a football game.

The pink shirts are printed with the phrase “Feel For Lumps — Save Your Bumps” (catchy, right?) and feature a breast cancer awareness ribbon. The girls had them made up and planned to wear them to a football game this month, where they wanted to sell the shirts to raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. But the principal of the school got wind of the plan and put the kibosh on it, saying the shirts are inappropriate. The TIME article also quotes the president of an organization called Family Watch International, who said that shirts are “unacceptably suggestive.”

Um, what?

Not sure about you, but every time I’ve been to the gynecologist, she’s asked if I do self breast exams at home. When I sheepishly say,”No, not really”—shame on me, I know—she launches into a speech about how important it is for a woman to feel her breasts regularly and really get to know them. That way, she can easily tell if there’s a sudden change. Makes perfect sense.

Isn’t that all these shirts are saying, reminding us to do self breast exams in a pithy, shorthand, kinda-funny sort of way?

When TIME tweeted out the story earlier today, I clicked the link because I expected to be blown away by some super graphic (maybe pornographic?) T-shirt. I imagined those dumb shirts from the ’80s that show the silkscreened torso of a buxom, DDD-cup woman in a tiny bikini, printed such that—gotcha!—it kinda looks like you’re wearing the bikini. Only in this case, I maybe thought D-cups would be done up au naturale, sans bathing suit—because why else would everybody be so angry?

So I’m asking you, readers—what am I missing here? Do the T-shirts offend you in some way? Do you think the principal—and parents, and community—were right to nip this little incident in the bud? Or are you as baffled as I am?

Oh and in case you’re wondering, the cheerleaders have managed to make a little lemonade out of the situation. All of the news coverage (there’s been quite a bit) has allowed them to collect over $5,600 for Susan G. Komen, selling the shirts at $15 a pop. Not too shabby for something so, um, offensive.

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