Like a pimply-faced teenager, I find myself once again consumed with breasts. It has been nearly 35 years since I went from a jostling, happy 12 year-old to a smug, confused teenager who finally noticed there was a difference between his buddies and the girl next door. Ah, Dawn Holstead. For so many years, Dawn played the same sports and games the rest of we boys did. She pretty much dressed like us and besides having longer hair, she looked a great deal like us. Since it was the 70’s, even shaggy hair wasn’t a great differentiator.
Then one day, I noticed she was…different. It was like something grew overnight. Yes, Dawn had started her inevitable change into a woman. Things got really dicey after that. Her ascent into womanhood was very inconvenient in the neighborhood because she decided to go all out and be a girly-girl instead of our fourth man. Two-on-two basketball became one-on-one with someone sitting out. We didn’t have even teams for football anymore so Tommy had to be all-time quarterback and we needed extra invisible men for baseball. So while I was glad to have an attractive neighbor with breasts, it kinda stunk on the playground.
One of the most embarrassing things I ever did revolved around breasts. It was totally innocent. Seriously! I promise! I was in the most awkward of all teenage hangouts – the school cafeteria. Being the new kid, I was pretty excited to have recently made friends with the popular and gorgeous Tracy Brinks. One day in the lunch line, Tracy turned around to say hello to me wearing a mohair sweater. What should the new kid desperate to impress do? He should compliment her clothes, of course. Only he should not reach out his hand to touch said clothes. Yup. I innocently reached out to give a tactile compliment to her sweater and found my hand resting squarely on her breast… in the lunch room… in front of the whole high school. I swear I had no intention of doing it. Really, I didn’t. It was so incredibly awkward. Tracy earned sainthood that day in my eyes because she didn’t have me hauled to the principal’s office. Of course, I couldn’t look her in the eye for months.
And now, in my middle age, I find myself admiring breasts again. It isn’t for the same reasons I did in my youth. It’s not the size, shape, or elasticity that intrigue me nor is this a rousing game of Real or Fake. No, it is not visual this time around. What I can’t get out of my head is the way they dominate the conversation in October. God Bless the Breast, you can’t get away from them. Pink is everywhere. Everywhere! Cheerleaders aside, think you’ll get away from them by watching an NFL game? Think again! Breasts have left the sideline and are now bouncing on the playing field with socks, sweat towels, and wristbands. When I was a teen I would have probably been slapped for complimenting a girl’s tatas and now soccer moms in minivans sport bumper stickers asking me to save them. October 15th now stands to surpass Christmas as the favorite day for pre-pubescent boys since it has been declared No Bra Day.
While I admittedly do admire the breast, my true admiration is for the marketing genius who wrangled the breasts out of their bras and into the social consciousness.
Say what you want about the current state of the foundation involved, they did an incredible job of creating awareness for breast cancer. For whatever reason, our childhood cancer counterparts haven’t seemed to rival their acumen. More people are going gold in September now and there is a trend toward more awareness of the leading killer of children. But even before October started I was asked by three stores if I wanted to buy a pink bag or donate a dollar to research. Wait, September is our month!
Good for you breasts, not only do you command 21% of public research dollars according the National Cancer Institute (compared to the children’s 3.8%), you pull in a much larger percentage of the private money as well.
I am not here to compare cancers. Any cancer is bad cancer – they all deserve research and I pray we find a cure for each and every one. But as a parent who has lost a child to cancer, I can’t help but notice the disparity between the pink and gold movements. We say we value our children, but do we?
The Captain of the SS Cancer sees the iceberg and cries out “Women and children first”, but for some reason the lifeboat is stuffed with breasts and we’ve not saved room for the drowning children who will never mature to grow them!
I wonder why? Is it because women have them and men think of them every 4.6 seconds on average? Is it because adults don’t typically get childhood cancers so those in power only focus on what affects their own lives? Or is it because one foundation grabbed society by the shorts and made them focus on breasts while children seem to have literally hundreds of disconnected organizations shouting different messages?
I don’t know. I’m not bright enough to figure this one out. I’m new to this cancer thing. After all, we only had ten months from diagnosis to my daughter’s death. I didn’t have time to think about awareness and funding. I only thought about the fight for her survival. Yet I can’t help but wonder if someone had organized a similar unified, organized campaign twenty years ago for childhood cancer, would it have yielded a more effective treatment for Kylie? Likewise, if our national priority truly was for children as our future, would she have one?
So Go Pink and Yay Breasts. I assure you, I have always been a big fan. But somehow can’t we figure out a way to be gold too? The children who nursed on them are counting on us.