Sugaring it up: Has the candy meme become 2011’s jagged little pill when it comes to breast cancer awareness?

I was able to quit FarmVille and Mafia Wars. I took a sufficiently lengthy hiatus from mommy-blogging, to return with a “newbie” status. Yet, for the life of me, I find it difficult to resist the dangle of the carrot known as the Facebook Meme. Especially if it is meant to serve a good cause.

The latest “cause-based” meme making the rounds, and the headlines, lately is of course the “craving and # of weeks” subterfuge that is meant to generate increased awareness of breast cancer. And so it was, a few days ago, that this was my Facebook status:

I’m 2 weeks and craving Starburst.

Almost immediately I got responses from both a high school friend and my younger sister. I sent them both a PM with a copy/paste of the meme and instructions. My high school friend immediately replied:

I thought you were pregnant! I’m not putting that as my status update! :0)

As for my sister, I could already anticipate not only her sigh of relief that I am not pregnant for a third time, but some loud eye-rolling because I had, yet again, become a sheeple. DH of course said nothing. (He very, very, rarely looks at my Facebook profile to begin with. If there’s something I want or need him to see, I have to get up from my computer to go downstairs to the Man Cave, and tell him to log in to check it out. That is, if he is not already entrenched in a round of Windows Hearts. Let’s just say that even if he was aware of this meme,  he alone would know that it is impossible for me to be pregnant in any way, shape or form; and leave it at that.)

And I didn’t think anything more about it until today. A completely unrelated link on my Twitter feed led me to the BlogHer site, and I could feel my pupils dilate as I took in an article condemning the breast cancer awareness meme this time around because it is offensive to women who struggle with infertility.

After granting myself a moment of righteous indignation (I am pro-adoption and not a huge fan of  assisted reproductive technologies – this is a topic for a future blog post, if it ever gets written), I stopped and thought about it. Not from the point-of-view of the meme’s purported offensiveness, but from the plain truth that there is nothing about it that is even remotely related to breast cancer research in the slightest. Nor were its “sisters” in previous years, namely one’s shoe size (posted in inches, which of course is as puerile as it sounds), preferred position for carrying a handbag, and so on. It was suggested that posting links to sites promoting actual research, etc. would be of a far greater benefit in the cause of raising awareness and research funds.

To make a long story short, I deleted that particular status from my Facebook profile and followed it up with this:

The first two redacted comments came from a friend I met back in the early ’90s when we got our pre-World Wide Web ‘Net access through the National Capital FreeNet, when 28.8K baud dial-up modems were the high standard for online access. The second-to-last comment came from my sister, which in its brevity pretty much says it all. But it’s the last (most recent) posted comment, from another friend whose adult sister recently lost a battle with leukemia, that really caught my attention, and I found myself reconsidering my stance once more.

When it comes to spreading the word about breast cancer, is there really much of a difference between posting a silly meme on a Facebook profile, or, say,  in buying and wearing a wide silicone bracelet that simply says “i <3 boobies” on it?

I <3 boobies!

I’m not insensitive to the need for breast cancer advocacy – ’tis clearly a far, far  better thing we should talk about it than pretend it doesn’t exist – on a personal note, my maternal grandmother won her fight with breast cancer many years ago thanks to critical advances in oncological medicine, namely radiation treatment and the drug Tamoxifen. What I am truly sensitive to is that in 2011, the citizens of the Western World can be annoyingly short-sighted when it comes to picking their battles. Case in point? Ours is a culture that openly and shamelessly encourages the early sexualization of girls through fashion and music, and has done for years. I’m still waiting for any meaningful sign of a backlash against it.

So if a silly meme is somehow what is needed, at this moment, to keep the conversation going about a disease that affects not only men and women, but inevitably their families as well – I think I’ll take it. Regardless of the form of the conversation starter, shouldn’t it be well and good enough that we’re all still talking?

One thought on “Sugaring it up: Has the candy meme become 2011’s jagged little pill when it comes to breast cancer awareness?

  1. I hate those “I dare you to post it” memes for the cause du jour. Having said that, there does need to be more awareness but like you I really don’t think that is the way to do it. What is….well I’m not really sure.

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