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Boobie bracelets: Is shock value worth awareness?

Published on | Kylie Chin

Last fall, the U.S.Boobies Bracelets Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit found that a school district’s ban on “I ♥ Boobies” bracelets violated the students’ rights to free speech. Currently, national groups representing superintendents, school boards and principals are working to overturn the lower courts ruling by going straight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This all stems from a middle school in Pennsylvania, three years ago. Brianna Hawk and Kayla Martinez, then 12 and 13 students, were suspended for wearing and distributing the bracelets, produced by the nonprofit Keep A Breast organization, during the school’s breast cancer awareness day. The girls were astonished and went to the ACLU, which agreed to take their case.

This is all somewhat ridiculous, yes—but it does raise some interesting questions. First of all, are those bracelets lewd? While we can’t answer that for you, it’s important to consider, especially when weighing the next question:

Is shock value, and the belittlement of potentially fatal diseases, worth the awareness it promotes?

It seems that the marketers’ view of public perception is that we’re bored of typical tactics—and required more edge to capture attentions. “Pink-washing” is a term that was coined in 2002 by Breast Cancer Action, which refers to countless distasteful, and occasionally offensive, stunts in the name of breast cancer awareness. With the abundance of pink-washing company’s are seeking another avenue. Similarly, the movement “F*ck Cancer” uses language they believe speak to Gen-Y’ers to promote early detection.

Whatever the method, creating conversations about cancer awareness, early detection and funding research can never be a completely negative thing. We’d love to hear your thoughts about “I ♥ Boobies” bracelets, pinkwashing, or using the f-word in your marketing efforts.




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