Ta-Tas Schma-Tas

Yesterday I almost drove my car into the back of someone else's because I followed them most of the way home from work on Rt. 422 and by the time I got off the road I was completely enraged by their stupid-ass bumper stickers.

And let me just tell you this -- we are not talking "McCain/Palin '08" stickers or even those lame "Coexist" things that are pretty much everywhere because hipsters think it's totally cool to be all about "tolerance, dude!" while they're drinking their imported light beers and cracking jokes about uglies and fat people.

Nope, what got me all het up was that the entire back of this person's car was covered with different variations and permutations of those suddenly-ubiquitous-but-no-less-ridiculous "Save the Ta-Tas" bumper stickers. "Save the Ta-Tas." "I ♥ My Ta-Tas." "Honk if You ♥ Ta-Tas."

Oh, give me just a small break, would you?

Listen, I know people who have these bumper stickers, and the keychains, and the T-shirts and the sun visors and the little tanks with the glittery words all over them. My sister has one on her car. They're all over the parking lot at work. Babies are wearing onesies that say "Be Vewy Vewy Quiet, I'm Hunting Ta-Tas." Seriously.

And I am sick of it. This is a more-than-potentially controversial position, no doubt, but I'm going to come right out and say it: I think this entire "Save the Ta-Tas" movement is really, really dumb. I know what the point of the campaign is supposed to be, and that it's supposed to be humorous and all, but I find the language and the "wink-wink-nudge"-iness to be really, really insulting.

Also: it's kind of crass and cynical (if not typically, profoundly American) to basically make a profit off cancer, off even the fear of cancer, but that's what Save the Ta-Tas does. Don't believe me? Here is language from their own mission page:
ta-tas® Brand is committed to helping create a world without cancer. That’s why we give 5% of every sale to the fight. Every purchase counts because every purchase creates a donation.
Emphasis mine. Do you see what they did there? They didn't actually encourage you to donate -- they want you to buy. "Every purchase creates a donation." Nice one. But 5% isn't very much -- if you buy a $26.00 T-shirt, only $1.30 gets donated to the "Save the Ta-Tas Foundation," and for every $4 bumper sticker, only 20 cents gets donated.

TWENTY CENTS. I guarantee you that the company makes more than that much in profit from each bumper sticker. They are a brand -- it says so right at the top of every one of their webpages. They're a dot-com, a business, and not a dot-org like the American Cancer Society (cancer.org) or Susan G. Komen for the Cure (komen.org). They're in this to make money, off of cancer, which I find fundamentally offensive and generally repulsive. (Yes, I have liberal guilt, and in this case? So should you, I think. More people should.)

And another thing: I am one of those eternally-aware people. Like, I do really stupid things, but I am aware of their impact. I smoke and don't use enough sunscreen and I haven't had a pap smear in like 5 years. I am aware of the risks of these behaviors. I know what can happen to me because of these things. I know what can happen even to people who are diligent about taking care of themselves.

I don't know these things because of some cutesy little bumper sticker that traffics in the goodwill of the "pink ribbon" on someone's SUV. I know these things because I pay attention to what is going on around me. I know these things because of reading and watching the news, the Internet, having hypochondria, and learning from other people's experiences. I know these things because I've had friends and family who did everything wrong and got cancer, and I know these things because I've had friends and family who did everything right and still got cancer.

I know these things because I am not a moron who calls her breasts "ta-tas" just to be "adorable" and who needs to purchase something called "Boob Lube" to give herself a breast exam every month. "BOOB LUBE," PEOPLE. Christ on a cracker, could that be any more obnoxious?

Oh, and guess what? From your $15 "Boob Lube" purchase, a whole 75 cents gets donated. That's it! Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick. You would think they could up the ante a bit on something that is actually useful and worthwhile. Not that you really need such a thing to give yourself an effective self-exam -- I found my lump when I was 29 years old while I was eating popcorn on the couch.

The financials are only a small part of what really bugs me about it, though. There is also the whole "ta-ta" factor. Like, look, I get that they are trying to be adorable and funny. I get it. I really do. But you know what? It's still demeaning. It's still offensive and insulting and objectifying and other-ing. Because women who survive breast cancer but had to do so by losing all or parts of their breasts? Are they not still women, and have their lives not been saved?

Maybe I feel this way because I am one of those brittle "feminazi" types, but I don't think so. I'm a woman, and a mom, and I am fed up with the segmentation of women and the exploitation of women's wants and needs and concerns. We are, none of us, just doll parts. We are whole and complete people, and it's bad enough that we have to deal with objectification from the media and whatever -- we don't need it from within our own ranks, too. We do not need to and should not desire to write the words "ta-tas" across our breasts in sequins to draw attention to legitimate scientific research.

It's not cute; it's annoying. And it conveniently ignores the fact that men also get breast cancer. Or that women get cervical cancer and ovarian cancer and uterine cancer and pancreatic cancer and colon cancer and lung cancer and thyroid cancer. People die from all these diseases every day, but the pancreas isn't very sexy, now is it? People's lives and homes and families are ravaged by the effects of these diseases, even when they survive with their breasts intact.

We need to stop telling each other that we are only valuable to each other, on the whole, when we retain all our factory-installed equipment, because that's what we're saying with those sparkly shirts, and it isn't the truth. Whether intended or not, that's what those shirts are saying. "Save the breasts, they make us worth having around." It's wrong, and it's an ugly lie. We're better than that, and we're more than the sum of our parts.

Screw the ta-tas, is what I am saying: save the women.


  1. go get a pap smear. it's covered under your basic insurance. and it's not that horrible.

    and AMEN to your message.

  2. i know i need a pap -- i just kept avoiding it because when we did infertility treatments i had stuff stuck in my hoodie-hoo at least once a week for a year.

    and for the record, i am NOT anti-breast-cancer-awareness. i am just don't think it should be a fundraising opportunity.

  3. feminazis unite!
    and i can't believe companies profit from cancer.
    well, nevermind, i can believe it. but it's awful.

    "we are, none of us, just doll parts" --except for Heidi Montag.

  4. haha "except for heidi montag" -- i wonder if putting her and courtney love in the same room would cause instant spontaneous combustion.

    i mean, courtney is crazy, but she's a riot grrl like the rest of us. represent!

  5. Late commenter, here, still catching up on blog reading from a June vacation.

    THANK YOU for this post. I have friends that are/just recently dealing with breast cancer, and I totally get going pink for awareness and all (even though I don't like pink, myself)...but the commercialism of it just drives. me. nuts. It's the same way I feel about the instant boom of flag magnet sales and crap after 9/11. If you are buying these things to "show your support?" JUST GIVE EVERY PENNY you were going to use to buy a shirt to something like Komen. Maybe less glory for you, but more good can be done with your $20 than your 2% of $20.

    And thanks for mentioning the other types of cancer...I actually just wrote a blog post about living post-thyroid cancer.