THE BLOG
13/10/2015 13:21 BST | Updated 13/10/2016 06:12 BST

Why I Will Not Be Supporting the Giant Internet Hoax That Is '#NoBraDay'

I refuse to accept that today is 'No Bra Day'.

As far as Twitter is concerned, 13 October is an official day when people should not wear bras - apparently to raise awareness of breast cancer.

The problem is, it seems to be slightly creepy, and also bollocks.

Some people are posting pictures of themselves not wearing bras, others are making rude jokes, and even more people are getting angry because it's not appropriate to make rude jokes about a day connected with breast cancer.

But my objection to this is nothing to do with the (very true) fact that the hashtag is encouraging people to objectify women.

My problem with this "annual holiday", as one website tenuously describes it, is that I'm pretty sure it's the internet playing an elaborate hoax on itself, making an "awareness day" out of a string of Chinese whispers.

There's no evidence that No Bra Day is even a real thing, let alone connected to any sort of breast cancer awareness initiatives.

There's no mention of it on the website for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or the breast cancer section of Cancer Research UK.

The internet is rather good at storing information and keeping records, but if you search online to try and find out who started this supposed awareness day, you end up with nothing.

The best I can find is that it was "reportedly created in 2011 by breast cancer advocates to commemorate the October Breast Cancer Awareness Month serves as a reminder for all women to be screened for breast cancer."

Basically, people think it's No Bra Day because Twitter said so. This might be alright, if this fake event was actually helping a good cause.

But just a glance online today tells us it's not reminding us of anything - it's the latest in a string of faddy hashtags that are destroying the credibility of charities.

This all started with the Ice Bucket Challenge, and in my opinion it should perhaps have stopped with it.

The ice bucket phenomenon wasn't started by a charity either - some say it began with baseball and American football players challenging each other to pour icy water over themselves to raise money for a fellow athlete with ALS (known as motor neurone disease in the UK).

But a Slate article reveals it most likely evolved from other long-practiced challenges - often not linked to a good cause at all - like the "ice challenge" (putting your arm in a bucket of ice) and the "polar bear plunge" (throwing your whole body into freezing water).

Cancer Research didn't start the #NoMakeUpSelfie craze for posting selfies without makeup on, and while a lot of money was donated, the crowd-sourced campaign led to confusion.

"Some people intending to donate to the charity sent their cash to Unicef in error, while others mistakenly inquired about adopting a polar bear with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)," the Guardian reports.

And now, with #NoBraDay, we've gone a stage deeper into the murky waters of campaigns-that-seem-official-but-aren't. It's an 'Awareness Day' that's not even real, that's not raising awareness, certainly isn't raising money, and may even be embarrassing the charities that it is mistakenly being linked to.

It's hard for charities to get people's attention, and they need our help, but not like this.

A few years ago, Cancer Research admitted it was struggling to find enough participants for Race for Life, its flagship event to support breast cancer.

If you want to raise awareness of something, don't just tweet saying that breast cancer exists - donate some money, share someone's personal story or your own, visit websites, read, rally friends.

God forbid, even just call a charity and ask how you can help it.

Do anything that actually puts the focus on the awareness, on any day of the year - not on how much underwear you've got on.