“Buy enough pink things and you too will conquer cancer” (Smith, 2012). Pink coloured home loans, pink coated pads and tampons, pink laced bras and t-shirts that scream ‘save the ta-ta’s’. Breast Cancer has become subject to commercialisation that is growing over time.

There seems to be a growing trend of commodification for charities, like any debate there are positives and negatives to all situations. The ‘commodification’ of breast cancer varies depending on the campaign and who is being targeted. The stigmatisation of Breast Cancer has certainly changed from a time of isolation, where women ‘hid’ their disease to a time where empowerment is fostered and social support is sought. Society has evolved through the sudden boom of the pink culture, bought about by the feminist activists. Breast cancer was able to expand; not only through its awareness but also through medical assistance it has doubled in comparison to any type of cancer in Australia (, 2016).

The National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) is an institution that is designed to raise awareness for thousands of Australian women diagnosed with Breast Cancer. The NBCF are able to support breast cancer patients by providing them with extensive medical assistance, funding support groups and providing products at a discounted rate to help through their treatment. Between 2014-2015 the NBCF raised $24.1 million, through their multiple fundraising functions and willing donators (The National Breast Cancer Foundation, 2015). NBCF also provided $10.5 million to invest in research and researcher support. As it is a non-government based organisation all funds are donated to multiple communities and different tactics of fundraising (The National Breast Cancer Foundation, 2015). The foundation has set a goal, by 2030 there will be zero deaths from breast cancer, there is no doubt that the NBCF has had a positive impact on patients and families.

In order to raise awareness, breast cancer organisations must consider how to target the diverse variety of groups throughout Australia. From pens, to perfume, shoes and perfume, pink marketing has reached new heights in ‘slapping’ the pink ribbon on multiple products and companies to show support. SE Smith from the Guardian writes, “Big firms have learned that breast cancer is a profit-generated tool and they aren’t willing to give it up” (Smith, 2012).

susan-komen-promise-me-perfume.jpgFor example the leading American breast cancer company The Komen Foundation, 2011 the company released the perfume ‘promise me’ designed to raise awareness for breast cancer (Landman, 2011). However the perfume proved to contain galaxolide and other toxic chemicals that have been deemed highly cancerous (Sulik, 2011). It was also found that only $1.51 or 3% of the $59.00 charged for the perfume was given to breast cancer research (Landman, 2011). The Komen Foundation stands as only a minuscule example of how some organisations are commoditizing charitable causes. Another example is the array of newly released t-shirts from the Save the Ta Tas foundation, displaying slogans such as ‘save the ta tas’ or ‘save a life grope your wife’ (Save the ta-tas, 2016). It has been said that only 5% of proceedings has been directed towards cancer research, while also utilising sexualised humour in order to appeal to a wider audience and shed light on the topic in an unethical way (Florence, 2016).

Commoditising is one of the concerns regarding breast cancer awareness. While all fundraising objectives are aimed to help patients and fund research, it is evident that not all products, companies and strategies used are crucial in raising awareness.

If you have any thoughts on the topic feel free to leave a comment!



Why try and sexify?

Angelina Jolie.

Captivating eyes. Plump cherry red lips. Facial features that resemble those that only mythical goddesses are renowned to have. A physique that young girls could only wish for. An Academy Award winning actress, a role model to mothers around the world and, of course, a sex symbol. Angelina Jolie revered as a standard. She is someone, women endeavour to be like, although they often feel that they fall short in comparison to her fame, good looks, fortune and her seemingly ideal family. But what happens when headlines hit the media stating that this icon has had a double mastectomy to lower the risk of breast cancer? What happens to the title of ‘sex symbol’?

When raising the question ‘what defines a woman?’ Responses vary from one extreme to the next, and it is undoubtedly evident that appearance to some is what defines a woman. From eyes to legs and of course breasts.

Within in the media there is the idea and social norm that ‘sex sells’. Therefore in any campaign varying from selling a sports car, to perfume or even campaigning for charity, women in some cases are present in a matter which shames the identity of a woman in order to appeal to a wider range of people. Whilst this can be beneficial in extending ties with the opposite sex, it can be degrading in ways it may present women or in some cases through the accompanying slogans.

It is common that women identify their breasts as a symbol of femininity. An article ‘The Breasts – The ultimate symbol of femininity’ describes breasts as being apart of womanhood; “beautifully set breasts emphasise the harmony of the female body… and create a secure and sensuous well-being in the relationship with the partner” (, 2016). As each female is vastly different to the other, I think that this idea of the breast as a part of identity separates how the sexualisation of breast cancer awareness and the stigma of the ‘sexy disease’ affect women. Angelina Jolie had made the decision to undertake a double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer. Whereas an article from ABC explains how 36-year-old Elisha Neave passed away, due to delaying her surgery due to becoming reluctant to remove her breasts (ABC News, 2014).

Breast Cancer has subtly gained the stigma of the ‘sexy disease’. While awareness is key incb85361eb220c5abc2b5b4fd93fa64d7_400x400.png prevention and increase in awareness, sexualisation for such a widespread and serious disease detracts from the severity. #NoBraDay is an awareness strategy for breast cancer, although has been deemed for ‘sexualising’ and ‘objectifying women’ (Moss, 2015). Feminist blogger Louise Pennington shares that these campaigns “reinforce the hyper-sexualised objectification of women’s bodies” (Moss, 2015). Save the Ta-Tas is a breast cancer awareness campaign, whilst its intentions are clear to raise awareness for woman diagnosed with breast cancer. Its forefront tends to detract from the disease, as well as imply offensive connotations to those who are suffering from the disease.

In order to demonstrate the extreme cases of the sexualisation of breast cancer, USA Today released an article stating “an online porn site this month has been using breast cancer to increase its web traffic by offering to donate 1 cent for every 30 views of its videos (Szabo, 2012). This is a controversial example, although highlights the lengths people explore in order to gain awareness but also how the cause is ‘used and abused’.

Awareness is key in achieving maximum attention to the cause as well as raising funds in order to support those who suffer from the disease. While the sexualisation of breast cancer is a current and controversial topic, it is a disease that affects one in eight women throughout Australia (Australia, 2016). By attaching a negative stigma to a serious cause often detracts from the harsh reality the thousands of women face globally.

If you have any thoughts on the topic feel free to leave a comment!