Bras are for people with breasts

Yesterday (and into today), a flurry of colors run through Facebook status posts. No explanation. Just color.

Earlier, I had received two different emails from friends letting me in on the viral secret: post your bra color. Just the color. Nothing else. And drive the men crazy. Noone tell. But, of course, this is to raise awareness for breast cancer.


When I opened the first message, I was paralyzed. (I didn’t even make it to the second message.) My brain did that thing where when it doesn’t know what to do, it just stops. Then it restarted and it sounded like this.

“But I don’t wear a bra. I can’t wear a bra. I have been searching for pretty bras for almost two years now that I can wear and I can’t find any. I have a stack of very beautiful, very expensive bras and matching underwear that I will never wear again because they don’t fit right after my surgeries. They can’t fit right. The rocks on my chest don’t conform to the contours of any bra. I have to say something. This is weird and wrong. This has nothing to do with awareness and I think awareness just totally sucks anyhow because it doesn’t mean anything. But I’m such a buzz-kill. My friends don’t want to hear that crap. How can I play along without sounding like a bitch? Think, Rosie. Think. Nude? No, that’s actually a bra color. Skin? Might be construed as a color. Maybe I just say I can’t wear them and raise a little awareness my way? Oh, poo, back to sounding like bitchy cancer girl. I’ll ignore it. No, wait, these are friends I will see in the next few days sending me this, REAL friends. They might notice. Just lie. Shit. This sucks. What do I do???”

Which is about the time my brain shut off a second time. So, I did nothing.

Later in the day, I actually saw one of the friends who had emailed me. I told her about the “can’t wear a bra” dilemma. She suggested I post nude. We talked about her bras for a while and how everyone expected she would say purple because she wears so much purple. It was a funny insight to have about her – funnier still to think other people had an opinion about her bra color. I started to relax a bit about the whole thing.

Later in the evening, I checked statuses and saw lots of funny ones from friends. One of my more outrageous friends posted that hers was white. I was not buying it and neither did some of her other friends. (She later commented, “I didn’t mention the sequins, googly eyeballs, and fiesta poppers attached to it. It’s a party up in here.” That made me laugh out loud.) Some guys posted colors. One friend posted coconuts. Another leather. I was actually surprised at many of the women who posted – ones I thought were far more private than that. I like to see their wild (ecru and yellow) sides. There is nothing bad about that, in my opinion. As I tried to put the whole “breast cancer awareness” business aside, I saw a lot of humor in the situation. It was humorous along the lines of fart jokes and flash mobs, but humorous all the same.

Even later, much later in the night, a breast cancer friend of mine posted what I wish I could have thought of earlier: upper commando.

So, I stole it. It’s ok. Another friend had stolen it already and I totally told her I was about to steal it.

And I almost immediately regretted posting anything. As soon as I did it, I realized playing along did nothing to help the internal struggle I was having. I wanted to follow-up with some choice words, but the “don’t be a buzz-kill” voice was back.

But I have to blog about this. It’s too big to pass up. And it’s too important to try to explain in a status post.

Allow me to summarize my thoughts:

  • This bra thing never ever should have been linked to breast cancer. Never.
  • Awareness is fraudulent. If you want to do something useful for breast cancer, research an organization you like and write them checks on a regular basis. (Don’t make them ask you because that costs them money they could be using on research.) To do something useful for yourself, know your body and have a good working relationship with your primary care physician. To do something useful for your friends, be vocal about how often you touch all of your parts and admit to them how you stare obsessively in the mirror at your moles.
  • I miss my boobs for a lot of reasons, but I definitely miss wearing pretty undergarments. I especially miss having a top that matches the bottom.

I still am having trouble with this. I am struggling as I write. Please, if you emailed me or posted your beautiful bra color, don’t take offense at this or worry about me. You didn’t hurt my feelings. I do think, though, that this is just one of those ways that I’m always going to have to deal with what cancer took. I will deal with it, but it’s just not that fun.

Here are what some other folks had to say and I can relate very well to most of their points.

One of the things I love about knowing many other young survivors is that I don’t feel like a freak having these mixed up feelings. Almost as soon as I started to have my internal freak-out, I started seeing posts from cancer friends that let me know they were having the same problems. I think if I hadn’t known these people, I really would have felt very alone during this little Facebook wildfire. Hugs and kisses to all my YSC ladies, without whom this journey would have sucked ass even more!

Author: rosie

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  1. This is incredible. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your words.

    Each of us needs to know that we’re not freaks — and we’re never alone.


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  2. Thank you, Susan. Your own post was a big help to me.

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  3. Thank you. I can relate to the reactions you had to the Facebook thing. Not offended – exactly – just very awkward. Not wanting to put too much info out on Facebook, but I did decide to link your and WhyMommy’s posts.

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  4. Just to let you know: awareness DOES matter. All these colors popping up led me to ask someone “Why?” whose answer led me to make a donation.
    In marketing (hate to use the term, but it is accurate) out of sight = out of mind = no action.
    Keeping awareness in the forefront of our thoughts reminds us of what really matters, and it reminds us to write a check!
    Thanks for sharing your struggles with us.

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  5. You know, Anthony, as much as I make a fuss about pink marketing, you are the first person who has ever told me that it inspired them to donate. I sure hope there are a lot more people out there who are doing it and just not mentioning it. Thank you for doing it!

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  6. I am glad to hear that this actually encouraged people to write a check, because I had the same feelings. I would classify mine closer to pissed off though, because I was less than a month out from a double mast when this happened, and friends that knew that to be true excitedly emailed me this, thinking it would make me happy. I was tempted to just put “gauze”, but did not want to play along and also did not want to hurt the feelings of well-intentioned friends. Thanks for posting this. While I think that awareness is important, before now I never thought any of this crap actually contributed a bit to helping anything.

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  7. Rosie, I am facing mastectomy this Spring and just started “getting wind” of the fact that I might not be able to wear a bra after recon. This being said, I am deeply touched by this entry(though, I have to admit, it does scare me a little). I am glad we all have such a wonderful friend in you to share feelings about these moments!

    Congrats on your blog being featured in CR Magazine!

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  8. For the record Rosie, when I posted my bra color, it was sent to me as a sort of joke against the boys thing, and did not mention breast cancer or awareness of any sort. I just did it because I thought it was funny, though if it had said something about cancer awareness I still would have done it, cause I like to share inappropriate information. 🙂

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  9. Nat, actually, my best guess is that about 25% of people got an email that didn’t mention “awareness,” and everyone else got emails that did. (Many people, of course, got several of both because it was like a frickin’ wildfire.) And, for the record, I hold nothing against my friends for posting in the name of awareness or not. I just want people to think about what that really means. It’s complicated and people gloss over it every day.

    If everyone wrote checks like Anthony did every time “awareness” is mentioned, we would all be broke and all cancers would be cured.

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  10. OH, and like I said in my original post, I love the inappropriateness of posting your bra color, too. That part made me laugh. The “what kind of rain do you like” thing makes me laugh. It makes me laugh, a lot, the things people say on Facebook that I don’t think they would say in regular life, yet, isn’t Facebook a part of regular life? lol. It just cracks me up.

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  11. Facebook is a part of my regular life. The beauty of FB is not only do people say off the wall things that they would not normally say, but they also contact each other spontaneously or comment on a status where they normally would not be in contact at all.

    Posted something on FB about not wearing my wig on a blustery day and people’s responses had me laughing out loud!

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