October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and one Carlsbad-based nonprofit is making sure the message of awareness gets spread year round, even if it creates controversy.
The Keep A Breast Foundation, has sold more than 2 million of its "I ♡ boobies" bracelets. Explains Public Relations and Marketing Manager Kimmy McAtee, "Our I ♡ boobies campaign—it's really taking a word like breast cancer that's taboo, scary and invokes fear and trying to make it so it's easy to talk about. "
There is a lot of talking going on about the bracelets, also known as bands. Many school administrators and teachers feel bands should be banned, regardless of the message. In fact, they have been banned at schools over the country. "From Fresno to New York to Texas, and even here in Oceanside" says McAtee. Most recently they have been banned at Valley Middle School in Carlsbad. Vice Principal Chad Lund says, "they weren't a problem last year, but this year they were with the boys wearing them. We felt like the language was not appropriate for school so we banned them."
Keep A Breast says the bracelets are targeted to teenagers, not middle schoolers or younger. However, they are ending up in middle and elementary schools. A sixth-grader I asked about the bands said, "The popular boys wear them, and I want one." Her mother and aunt said they'd let her wear it outside of school but not at school. Keep A Breast says, "Boobies is not a four-letter word. The bands support education and awareness. We are teaching people to love their bodies at a young age. People are diagnosed with breast cancer as young as 10 years old. Men are also diagnosed."
The Keep A Breast Foundation says if a school wants to ban the bands, it should first start a conversation about it with the students. As a last resort, the bands can be flipped around so the "I ♡ boobies" is against the skin, making the band read "Keep-A-Breast.org."
McAtee says a lot of schools who did ban them have since overturned the bans. "Students teach their teachers and principals and show them why they want to support the organization."
The $4 bands are sold at sporting events, festivals and in stores like Tilly's. Money raised goes towards educating teens about breast health and how to live a nontoxic life.