Wear It Pink

October 31, 2008

Today (31 October) is Wear It Pink Day, a major fund raising day for Breast Cancer Campaign held during October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Breast Cancer Campaign’s mission is to beat breast cancer by funding innovative world-class research to understand how breast cancer develops, leading to improved diagnosis, treatment, prevention and cure.

Supporters are asked to wear any item of pink and donate £2 to the charity. This can be anything from pink socks to dying your hair pink. So far the charity has raised £3.1 million for breast cancer research from Wear It Pink Day in 2007.


Question(s) for Wear It Pink day: In the official poster (see below), is the image sexist? And why? Feel free to answer in the comments, if you please…


ETA, November 3: I emailed Breast Cancer Campaign about the image, to say I thought it was sexist; to ask how it was selected and to say that I thought an image which sexualises women in this way (it’s hard not to spot echoes of the Playboy bunny in that picture too) wasn’t really suitable.

So this is the reply I got:

Thank you for your email and feedback regarding the wear it pink poster.

Throughout our design process for this years event, we have at all times taken into consideration people who have been affected by breast cancer and have therefore engaged various stakeholders throughout the process of the design. The design is in no way meant to be sexist or demeaning, so we apologise that this has offended you. We have in fact designed a variety of posters this year so that people can choose the level of ‘daring’ that they wish. Please do take a look at our generic poster, which I’m sure you’ll find suitable.

[Direct link to PDF file of generic poster]

Please don’t hesitate to contact me should you wish and we will certainly take your comments into consideration in the future. I do hope you enjoyed this years wear it pink and I am sorry if it caused you offence.

In case the link should stop working, here’s a smaller version of that ‘generic poster’:

Okay, well first of all, I’m not a big fan of conditional apologies (“sorry if…”)

And I can’t help but feel that the fact that they can so quickly come up with the generic alternative rather suggests they might have been expecting complaints – in which case, why not just make a non-sexist poster in the first place?

The worst thing, I think, is the fact that it’s put back on to me to decide, when really, there shouldn’t even be a choice, especially when those are the only options. It’s not about “choosing a level of ‘daring'” – it’s about not perpetuating sexist stereotypes and demeaning women generally, especially when they are likely to be a large part of your target demographic.

So, Wear It Pink next year? Hmm, probably not. Not now – not again.

There are, after all, many other good causes in need of donations.


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4 Responses to “Wear It Pink”

  1. Laura Says:

    Is there anyway anyone could argue this image is *not* sexist? The woman is obviously being subjected to the male gaze, the guy on the left of the poster is obviously perving at her arse…

    I really do not want to be subjected to sexist images like this as I come into my place of work, yet feel like i can’t say anything because they’ve been put up by a very recent survivor, who is leading the campaign in my company. Yet if the poster had been put up by a man I would have no problem airing my concerns. And in fact the women working here would have the beginnings of a decent case of sex discrimination. The content of the poster is no different to a playboy bunny poster- would that be acceptable in a workplace? No, of course not. It’s simply because it’s for a breast cancer campaign (wrongly perceived as a “woman’s cancer”) that we’ve suddenly slipped back to the 1970s. The sexualisation of women is inappropriate for this sort of campaign.

    That said i support the campaign to raising awareness of breast cancer and raising money to support the cause, thus am wearing pink and will pay my £2.

    Do I say anything? Hmmm…….

  2. Helen G Says:

    Laura, thank you. I also have some similar concerns and am still trying to work through them, as well as figure out what to do/say about it.

    Part of me wonders if I’m being oversensitive – and surely as big an organisation as Breast Cancer Campaign wouldn’t knowingly publish something that caused offence to its target demographic?

    I’ve emailed BCC but am not expecting a reply any time soon as this is, after all, their busiest time of the year…

    Meanwhile, like you, I also am all pinked up and about to go and stump up my £2 donation…


  3. queen emily Says:

    Yeah, I don’t think it’s particularly appropriate for a fundraiser–but then, I have been known to tell people to go fuck themselves on the ever-hilarious “Cross Dress for the Red Cross” day…

  4. Helen G Says:

    Thankfully the Red Cross has yet to pull that amusing little stunt over here, but I guess there’s time yet.

    But, in the end, it’ll be the same answer that critics of Live Aid received: money talks, people mumble. Apparently the collection in our office today raised double the amount of last year.

    The end justifies the means, it seems. Not that that’s any excuse at all.

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