We’ve watched the ad and witnessed the controversy. Now, we’re asking: “What’s next?”
Earlier this year, Rethink Breast Cancer released a memorable and infamous public service announcement (PSA) that was seen around the world. Produced with the visual and sensual focus on “boobs” – specifically those of Aliya-Jasmine Sovani, host of MTV Canada – it quickly became the subject of heated and passionate commentary. Some suggested that it was overly sexualized, male-focused and objectified women. Others argued that the PSA breathed fresh life into a breast cancer communications strategy that has become tired, unappealing and unrealistic.
The Rethink PSA was successful because it reminded us that, yes, breast cancer has a sexual component. Women like Ms. Sovani who are between the ages of 20 – 49, are regularly diagnosed with breast cancer. They not only deal with the physical impact of a breast cancer diagnosis, but they must navigate the sexual issues associated with the disease. For example, the actress Christina Applegate decided to have a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer last year. She has openly discussed the impact of her decision on her relationship with her boyfriend and body image.
Rethink’s PSA was memorable, but we can’t afford to let the conversation begin and end with boobs. We need to find ways to grab the attention of young men who are impacted by breast cancer, but don’t think about it much. We need to boldly and forthrightly talk about the intimacy issues associated with a breast cancer diagnosis. We need to bring people wedded to traditional breast cancer awareness strategies together with those who have decided to tear up the playbook.
It’s time to have a candid conversation about “what’s next” in breast cancer awareness communications. We believe the following questions must be addressed more broadly:
- How can we develop initiatives that acknowledge the sexual health issues associated with breast cancer while fully embracing women’s bodies in a larger context?
- What can we do to move past (or leverage) “shock and awe” campaigns and generate meaningful action?
- What do we need to do to get young men more involved in the fight against breast cancer?
Consider this an open invitation to men, health influencers and women’s health advocates to continue the conversation about issues raised by the Save the Boobs PSA in an open forum.
There are three ways you can help.
- Spread the word about this open letter via your on and offline social networks (blog, tweet, chat and talk about it)
- Signal your support for this open letter by leaving your virtual signature below
- Participate in a conversation on this issue with Kelley Connors’ through her online talk show, Real Women on Health. We’re looking for input from representatives of breast cancer awareness organizations like the Susan Komen Foundation and Rethink. Once we get enough interest, we’ll schedule the program. (We’ll know you’re interested if you Tweet, blog and comment about this letter.)
Thank you in advance for your attention and support.
President, KC Healthcare Communications, LLC (www.kc-health.com)
Founder, Real Women on Health (www.blogtalkradio.com/realwomenonhealth)
Founder, Envision Solutions, LLC (www.envisionsolutionsnow.com)
Founder, The Path of the Blue Eye Project (www.pathoftheblueeye.com