You are sitting with a female friend, enjoying a cup of tea and talking about the musical styling of Duffy and the peculiar nature of coated guitar strings and how people could come to use them over normal cutting edge strings. Your friend then tells you that she wants to tell you something very important and stands up, walks around the table, and sidles up next to you.

You lean in and bring your ear close to her mouth, expecting her to reveal some deep idea she has been contemplating — or perhaps a personal secret that she has never shared with anyone because she never trusted anyone the way that she trusts you.

Rather, she takes hold of the top of your head and pushes it toward her now slightly lifted shirt top, nearly thrusting your face into her cleavage. “Look!” she says, “It’s blue with white polka dots!” She releases your head and you snap back, mystified by this strange experience — but not nearly as much as you are when she is finished speaking again. “Now we’re another step closer to curing breast cancer!”

Though this might seem like complete insanity if it were to happen in the world we inhabit, it happened over and over again in the digital world of Facebook. People were exposed multiple times per day, sometimes unknowingly, to the exact color (allegedly) of the bras worn by their friends. It became big news last week as it happened over and over again — all allegedly in the name of raising awareness for breast cancer. There’s just one little problem with all of this.

It does nearly nothing to actually raise awareness. Let us think critically for a moment about who sees the updates with color. There are the people who are aware of the significance of the color update right away — they are well aware of the existence of breast cancer as well. Then there are the people who do not understand why their friends are posting colors. These people are friends with the ones that are fully aware of the existence of breast cancer. Almost all of them save for a handful are aware of it as well.

Is it worth this inane and intrusive information sharing to get one or two cave dwellers to be aware of breast cancer? Never mind that this does nothing to actually find a cure. I have a few friends who have posted interesting tips for helping prevent cancer. The likelihood of these tips helping the people who read them is significantly greater than the useless non-information of bra color that imprisons us in cute convenience than in really doing anything proactive and substantial.


  1. I’m on Facebook quite a bit, Gordon, and I had no idea any of this was going on — I guess I need to add some new friends. Thanks for the update!

  2. The whole idea is so hideously stupid….I just wanted to disappear when it started.
    What makes us think that describing the bra color would be a tool to increase awareness??? What next – the size? God help us.

  3. I’m confused. Were they showing their actual bras or stating their bra color?
    I got distracted by the image above.
    In all seriousness, I noticed a Facebook status update inquiring as to the meaning behind the posts. But, that was about it. I guess the fact that I’m reading this article shows that the marketing initiative was slightly effective, but I think Facebook could have been more direct.
    Also, I just finished my first cup of coffee prepared by an upstanding coworker, so I may need to re-read once my brain is functioning.

  4. Any time, David. Maybe here is a good reason to be grateful you have friends that don’t share that sort of information 🙂

  5. I felt the same way, Katha. I was so relieved when I saw useful information being posted by a friend instead of crazy colours.

  6. Ah — but is cancer cured, is the question? Will you take your loved one — sister, cousin, girlfriend — to get a mammogram as a result of knowing so many bra colours? 🙂
    I’m reminded a little of the Project Red campaign that spend more time and money on marketing itself than curing AIDS, or FAIDS for that matter.

  7. Now I’m thinking I might have too many friends and that’s how I missed this. Or maybe I need more bra-centric thinkers on my friends list… hmmm…

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