Sometimes a hashtag starts out as one thing and morphs into another.
Such is the case with #NoBraDay, an October 13 social-media call to ditch the bras to raise breast cancer awareness. (How the two are correlated exactly is unclear.) It also called up controversy Tuesday as titillating (forgive the pun) messages and headlines piled up on Twitter for the trending topic, leading to frustration that it was getting sexualized.
On TMZ, for example, you'll find a "Happy No Bra Day" post of Selena Gomez in a see-through shirt and a photo gallery on another site headlined #NoBraDay: 15 Celebs Who Frolick About With Their Fun Bags Freed." Then there's the Vine titled "Grandmas Celebrate #NoBraDay too...#TheyTouchedHerKnees" that shows a young guy looking at his phone and then rubbing his eyes as if to rid them of the horrifying older breasts he'd just been subjected to. And on and on it goes, in much the way you'd expect from the worldwide social-media grab bag.
I find #NoBraDay very distasteful. Please don't sexualize the disease that keeps killing my family members & that I am at high risk for.— Victoria Loye (@victoriawren) October 13, 2015
"I find #NoBraDay very distasteful," one woman tweeted. "Please don't sexualize the disease that keeps killing my family members & that I am high risk for."
Tweeted another: "Ladies, let's make sure to post a selfie sans bra so men can sexualize a disease that can potentially kill you!"
It's unclear who started the #NoBraDay campaign, timed to take place during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but some reports say breast cancer activists created it in October 2011. A No Bra Day Facebook page with just over 2,700 likes dates back to 2012. "Wear No Bra Oct 13th," reads a short description on that page. There's also a Twitter account with the handle @NoBraDay, which has just over 6,000 followers and curiously, given the supposed motive behind the cause, tweeted and retweeted a couple of buxom-chest shots.
Breast cancer: the one disease where "raising awareness" is always much more popular than finding a cure. I wonder why. #NoBraDay— Robin (@caulkthewagon) October 13, 2015
So how much is #NoBraDay doing to contribute to awareness? It's hard to say.
"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," Louise Ridley, an assistant news editor at Huffington Post UK, wrote on that site in a post Tuesday titled "Why I Will Not Be Supporting the Giant Internet Hoax That Is '#NoBraDay.'"
Instagram has plenty of #nobraday posts of shirtless women, men and monkeys. An informal scan of tweets containing the #NoBraDay hashtag reveals more tweets about celebrity boobs and how comfortable it is to run around without a bra than those about victims or where to send donations. But there are tweets with reminders to get regular mammograms and others expressing respect for courageous survivors and powerful pictures of women with double-mastectomy scars.
One of many tweets containing such images reads: "Spread love and appreciation for some of the beautiful faces of breast cancer survivors. #nobraday"
In the end, one hopes those pictures have more impact than any braless celeb could.