October. Pink. Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Funny how a colour so gimmicky in childhood, could be so purposeful past youth. I attended Stylist Live last week and aside from it being epic, it was informative. The 4-panel debate was the best girl chat I've ever witnessed, and I'm a BIG fan of The Real! Nimco Ali, the FGM activist, was a member of that panel and brought to light gender inequality in medicine, which I'd shed some light on in the past, but not paid much attention to since.
With it being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it pricked my interest to read what myths had been circulating about this largely female-centred issue. Most recent of which was an article published in Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop, stating the perils of tight bras on the lymph nodes around our breasts. This is an idea articles in other female magazines have picked up on and run with since. It is advised women wear bras less frequently, and if that proved difficult, we should opt for non-underwired bras. A man with a preference is all I hear, with no evidence in support, rather just assumptions flung around to control women's actions and conduct. Hear this loud and clear: THERE IS NO SCIENTIFIC LINK BETWEEN BRAS AND CANCER.
Breast Cancer (and cancer in general) is a complex condition involving a range of factors, some of which are beyond our control; hereditary. None of which involve garment care or your choice of underwear, and it's absurd that such ideas are still running rampant in 2015! Blake Lively took a backseat & admitted the responsibility that comes with an online multimedia platform, even commending Goop in the process. So to see that very same Goop, misinforming it's impressionable audience is disappointing.
Perhaps it's our fault as female readers. Unbreakable: Jimmy Schmidt pokes flaws in modern culture's thirst for male authority in the spinning sect episode, and I can't help but see the similarity with this issue. Some of our foremothers wore bras to their grave, and lived life to the fullest in so doing. Some women lived healthy lives, with regimented workouts, seasonal detoxes and what have you, yet were diagnosed with breast cancer. We aren't to know the sole cause because there is none (as yet), yet we look to an opinionated male doctor for symptoms and biased hypotheses?
Same goes for feminine woes in general; think about the myths yet to be abolished regarding periods, and the culture of some at shaming a natural monthly process in a bid to keep women in a subordinate position. How long did we idly roam the isles and sites for useful feminine care tips before innovators created BeingGirl? Now there's boxes such as The Pink Parcel, which has adapted popular subscription box methods to meet the needs of its female customers. Creating a sense of ease (and dare I say, excitement) at the prospect of your monthly cycle. Knocked for pinkifying a rite of passage by critics (I may not completely agree with the colour scheme, but I see its purpose) The Pink Parcel can perhaps normalise and remove the stigma young girls feel towards menstruation. One need not run a marathon with blood soaked gear to prove that point.
Cancer isn't a rite of passage, but perhaps instead of shaming women into living as you desire, more should be done by the profession to accomodate our needs and normalise the process. Not to knock the profession, but shouldn't we urge more females to go into medicine and STEM subjects in general, because they can better understand their patients? Enough is enough with this subpar treatment of grand ailments. If it's not about my bra, its about the cosmetic external choices I make. You don't see men being advised to wear boxers over briefs in GQ!
The only person that can save you is you" Sheryl Crow (post - breast cancer diagnosis)