STYLE

No Bra Day Is Not Aligned With Breast Cancer Care, So Where Did It Begin?

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13/10/2017 14:53

Women are being encouraged on social media to take off their bras and share photos with the hashtag #NoBraDay.

The campaign has also been picked up and promoted by some news sites with headlines explaining ‘why women should leave their bras at home today’ next to photos of semi-naked women.

At first glance this looks like another charity event to raise attention for Breast Cancer Awareness Month - but would a cancer charity really ask women to share photos of their bra-free chests? And in what way does this fashion statement actually serve to raise awareness of a medical condition?

We had to find out. 

Voyagerix via Getty Images

Trying to learn the origins of the event is difficult. There is no official website and there are multiple Twitter accounts dedicated to the “awareness” day. 

Our first stop was to speak to Breast Cancer Care, a charity that has been linked to by some people using the hashtag. 

But the charity’s director of fundraising and marketing, Andy Harris, told us they are not aligned to the campaign in any way.

“Our supporters are fantastic and highly creative fundraisers who raise millions for Breast Cancer Care annually. And we are hugely grateful,” he said.

“However the charity is not aligned with No Bra Day.”

Next up we spoke to Anna Johnson, who is part of a UK-based team that created the Twitter account @NoBraDay2017.

She responded to our request for information via email, but would not agree to answer questions over the phone as she was busy with meetings.

Johnson confirmed that No Bra Day is not formally associated with Breast Cancer Care, but added that it does have “more unofficial links”, although she would not elaborate on this.

When asked about the identity of the founder of No Bra Day, she said:

“The campaign started in the US, I’m afraid I don’t know the founder’s name but this has been going for several years and more recently turned into a social media craze. It hit the UK more recently.”

She also told us it was “hard to quantify” the number of people involved in the UK campaign as “most are volunteers”.

“The UK operation is far smaller than the US, but has increased dramatically over the past three years, largely due to awareness being spread on social media and people wanting to do ‘things’ to help,” she said.

Johnson also pointed us in the direction of Emma Dearden, a student who has appeared on Channel 4′s ‘Naked Attraction’ dating show and who is a supporter of the campaign.

Dearden’s agent Chrissy Davis tried to get hold of her, but at the time of publication we had been unable to speak to Dearden directly.

Instead Davis sent us some quotes from Dearden, which explained she started promoting No Bra Day in 2015.

“Some people think it is a bit of fun but those people don’t understand the full story,” Dearden’s quote read.

“Breast cancer is about potentially losing a breast so females of all ages, shapes and sizes are asked not to wear a bra on No Bra Day to remember those who have suffered.”

Emma Dearden
Emma Dearden.

“There is some fun to No Bra Day, I tweet about boobs, which I don’t any other day,” Dearden’s quote continued.

“All my tweets are about boobs but also breast cancer awareness so people can have a laugh, but see the real motive too - if they retweet because of the boob content they are also sharing the breast cancer content.

“I’ve done sponsorship for cancer charities and run events and will be doing more of the same. I’m lucky not to have been affected or seen this horrible disease in my family but I have seen others suffer. People should support the day for what it is about.”

Johnson also explained she felt using social media to promote No Bra Day was the “cheapest and easiest way to spread the word” about breast cancer awareness.

“Although I haven’t been directly affected [by breast cancer] myself, I have seen the damage it can do and how it changes lives,” she said.

“However, it is one of those illnesses where early diagnosis can make a huge difference hence this annual campaign. It’s great to work with likeminded woman (and men) to raise awareness.”

Dearden and Johnson’s intention is for their controversial request to get people talking about breast cancer - and it has got people talking.

However, in the course of its short history No Bra Day has faced a lot of criticism from people who believe it detracts from a serious issue and makes light of the experience of breast cancer patients.

As writer Christina Cauterucci explained in a 2015 article for Slate: “Encouraging women to show off their braless chests in the name of awareness won’t save anyone, but its message to breast cancer patients and survivors is clear: Your disease is about your secondary sex characteristics, not about you.”

So if you would rather keep your breasts out of your awareness raising efforts Harris told us there are plenty of ideas for fundraising initiatives on: breastcancercare.org.uk.

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