Orange or Orange?

In science, experiments are conducted in order to decipher the relationship between cause and effect. When the media release an advertisement or image relating to a current issue, society view and react.

During my last year of high school, for my Society and Culture major I chose to study ‘the commodification of breast cancer research’. Sitting through this weeks lecture, the topic of discussion was Semiotics. As Sue began to explain the concept of semiotics and showed different examples, I realised that this concept can be related to the way Breast Cancer is advertised and how different sorts of people interpret and react to what they see. Looking at the example of the Dior ad staring Kate Moss, and the discussion that was brewing in the lecture theatre I became inspired to write about Breast Cancer advertising.

Although before I begin, I understand that Breast Cancer is a serious issue for women in Australia. Breast Cancer advertising is insightful and successful in conveying the importance of the disease and I completely support its effects on society. Therefore my example is not to fault Breast Cancer campaigns or offend, it is something that I have found from prior and current research.

So, lets get into semiotics. Semiotics can be broken down into ‘denotations’ and ‘connotations, which simply is the literal figure in an image and the way society interpret what they see.

Breast Cancer is one of the leading diseases in Australian women, October is the month of Breast Cancer. This is a time where society support and further promote Breast Cancer awareness.


The denotations of this image convey women uniting ‘together’ to overcome Breast Cancer which coincides with the slogan, “Together, Connect. Communicate. Conquer. For a future free of Breast Cancer”. I feel that this image portrays the ‘inter-racial’ support amongst women. The Pink ribbon and lipstick reflect one of the biggest Breast Cancer Foundations which is the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Connotations vary, for some this can be a symbol for empowerment and unity for women and for others this can be a sexual innuendo.

In a blog by Melissa Tankard Reist she quotes pervious tweet from a former Breast Cancer patient “My ‘donation’ to research in the form of malignant flesh should not be devalued, by my cancer being reduced to a Benny Hill punchline.” Throughout her blog she expresses that ‘sexed-up campaigns’ or advertisements are offending women who have suffered from Breast Cancer as its connotations promote support for Breasts rather than the lives of women.

Ideologies and worldview very much affect semiotics. For instance feminists advocate for equal rights for women, when a feminist views this photograph instant connotations would relate to the sexualisation of women. Emily O’Malley expresses “These ads don’t even contain information about symptoms, prevention and treatment”. Breast Cancer is very much driven by Feminism, as it was one of the ways Breast Cancer was brought into light.

This is just one view from a minority in society. It can vary vastly from a cancer patient to a teenage boy, each individual have their own opinions and attitudes influenced by culture, age, gender etc.

Personally I feel that this example is a sufficient representation of semiotics.

Feel free to leave your opinions and thoughts.


3 thoughts on “Orange or Orange?

  1. I really like this post. I agree with your opinion about how this image can be interpreted by people that are feminists or even by men. It would seem that mainly cancer patients that are going through breast cancer would appreciate it while others will think of sexual connotations. I think you chose a really good image to represent semiotics as well.
    – Jade.


  2. Although I’m not a veteran of semiotics I do feel as though you were able to explain the complexities of semiotics rather well and simplistically within in your post. Admittedly I was initially wary of the picture you had chosen to explain semiotics with, I immediately changed my mind however after your initial description of the denotations found within it as well as your own connotations of the picture. You were able to show a lot of aspects of the picture that at first glance I had over looked entirely, which proved your point even more so, of how people will see things differently depending on their own ideology.

    The example connotations that you used along with your own, also worked well to demonstrate how an individual’s ideology can act to influence their perception of something and in this case how it is able to cause debate and conflict over its meaning and purpose. I do wonder though if your argument would have benefited somewhat from including a more diverse array of examples and connotations such as a male view or opinion of the picture, or one that ‘opposed’ the views expressed within the previous examples. I feel as though this would have helped to demonstrate more how remarkably different an individual’s connotation can be when compared to another’s, further expressing the ever diverse nature of semiotics.

    None the less it was an amazing post! I’d also like to foolishly admit that it wasn’t until just know that I have grasped the meaning of your title . . . . . thanks.


  3. A lot of the campaigning that has surrounded breast cancer research has really run with the ‘femininity’ of the issue; pink ribbons, pink fundraisers, the list goes on. It really romanticises the issue of breast cancer, without really highlighting the harsh realities of the cancer and how to identify or prevent it. The number of campaigns that have been set up as “awareness” days are really just sexualising and romanticising the issue, not tackling it full on with with preventative information in regards to how to identify abnormalities in breasts, or where to access detection services etc.. See article here on cancer sufferer’s thoughts over the “No Bra Day” as a way to give awareness to breast cancer:
    Although awareness is still important, I think the media is really using and even abusing the notion of “femininity and sexiness” of breasts, to in a way, almost “brand” breast cancer, selling pink ribbons, pink cupcakes, pink anything really. We can see why breast cancer is probably the most funded cancer research today, and it is no wonder that other cancers that can’t be “branded” in this same way.. e.g. prostate cancer, leukemia, lung cancer, don’t receive the same amount of attention in the media.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s