Free Speech Includes “Boobies”April 16, 2011 No Comments
Middle school girls took their suspension due to their love of boobies to a national courtroom and found that the justice system also loves the lady lumps.
The “I heart boobies” bracelet campaign has been prosperous, meaningful, and ultimately a success for breast cancer awareness and fundraising. Bracelets made by the Keep A Breast Foundation can be seen on everyone’s wrist lately from your baby brother to your grandmother or even grandfather. Everyone has been showing their support on their wrists since this past summer and paying the $3.95 fee that goes directly to breast cancer research and awareness funds. They come in cute, flashy colors with the sweet line, “I heart boobies.” Now, seriously, what could be so wrong with that? Apparently, it is sexy enough to get suspended over. Two young girls from the Easton Area School District, PA, decided that instead of following their school’s ridiculous ban of the bracelets on Breast Cancer Awareness Day, they would wear their bracelets with pride. It was a day raising awareness for the cause on their wrists, so how could that be wrong?
They were immediately suspended for showing their support. Luckily, they took it to court and ultimately won. Kayla Martinez said, “I thought it was worth my time. In our generation, all the teenagers ask me about the bracelet. So it shows the bracelets teach a lot to kids.”
She couldn’t have said it any better. The “Frequently Asked Questions” section of Keep A Breast’s website states, “the purpose of Keep A Breast’s ‘I Love Boobies!’ campaign is to speak to young people in their own voice about a subject that is often scary and taboo.” By wearing the bracelets, they are starting a conversation about “Why?” What is breast cancer? How do you find it? What can it do to you? All of these questions are probably asked by her schoolmates (when she can actually wear it) and they are learning for themselves. While schools are too busy worrying about the sexuality and appropriateness of students’ jewelry, those children’s family members are fighting a powerful disease. Martinez wears the bracelet in honor of her aunt who is currently fighting her battle against breast cancer.
Let’s be honest for a minute. It is not 1950 anymore. The amount of sexual images and language that kids are exposed to by simply turning on the television is nowhere near the innocence of these small pieces of plastic. It’s not like the bracelets read: “I love titties” with a matching picture of a pair. I remember being a child of 4 or 5, learning that mommy’s lumps on her chest were “boobies.” The word itself is mere child’s play.
“If the phrase ‘I (heart) Boobies!’ appeared in isolation and not within the context of a legitimate, national breast cancer awareness campaign, the school district would have a much stronger argument,” wrote Judge Mary McLaughlin. “This is not the case here. One of the bracelets … did not even contain the word ‘boobies,’ but rather said ‘check y(heart)ur self!!’”
If the bracelets’ message were to sexualize those wearing them, then I could see the suspension and the risk. But they are clearly in production to bring us together to support a common cause. One can argue that we’re making breast cancer into its own line of overzealous ad campaigns and more of a money maker than anything else, simply over-sexualizing breasts.
But not these bracelets. These middle-schoolers are not promoting videos with boobs jiggling around, saying things like “Save these fun bags!” They’re keeping the issue on the issue of awareness and comfort, not hot, wet boobs jumping around. They are fighting for what they believe in, at age 13.
And it is actually working.
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