I was at the casting for the Breast Cancer Now and Marks & Spencer lingerie campaign back in July. I was two weeks post my last round of FEC-T chemotherapy and felt like death warmed up, but they had said that they would like to meet me so I made the two hour train journey to London one Saturday morning.
When I received my ‘Dear John’ email a couple of weeks later I wasn’t overly surprised: I had no hair, eyelashes or eyebrows and was carrying some chemo weight. There were also some much more photogenic women there, including a Flat Friend with legs up to her armpits! But then this week the campaign has had its official launch and somehow a breast cancer charity and a department store famous for its underwear have completely ignored a large proportion of women who have had breast cancer surgery. Out of the whole range there is one mastectomy bra suitable for wearing with prostheses, and nothing for those of us who live flat. Not to mention the complete absence of underwear for men. And out of the models who have had mastectomies, all have had reconstruction or expanders prior to reconstruction.
At the time I did query if I really was what they were looking for – I made it very clear to Breast Cancer Now and the casting agency that I was flat and did not wear prostheses. “Don’t worry, there will be something in the range for you”. Well, there isn’t. Not a bandeau, vest or camisole to be seen.
Then, to add insult to injury, the campaign hinges on #showyourstrap. Another inane social media campaign which encourages self-adoration in the form of seductive selfies showing your bra strap; which is just what you want to be confronted with when cancer has taken your breasts. Why will I have to spend the rest of October confronted with pink fluff and pouting female celebrities and wannabees claiming to raise awareness? I am not always a fan of Coppafeel’s sexualised approach, but at least they are actually trying to encourage women to check themselves regularly. And somehow 99% of other charities manage to do their thing without a constant stream of flimsy social media campaigns.
“But it raises money, and that’s the main thing” they say. Well I don’t think it is. I think people are the main thing. And when campaigning in the name of a disease, charities have a responsibility not to offend those with said disease.
To date neither Breast Cancer Now nor M&S have responded to my comments regarding the range and their snub of women who have had to have mastectomies and have not had reconstruction.
I have had my breasts and my ‘pink ribbon blindfold’ removed. #nostraphere