Curing Cancer With Your Bra

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

In the illustrious history of Rick rolling, surprise kitty and, my personal favorite, the send-this-to-everyone-you-know-and-Microsoft-will-send-you-a-check-for-a-million-dollars e-mail, a new Internet meme has emerged and it is good. If by "good" you mean "hilarious" - which I always do.


If you were on Facebook this weekend and are a girl, you probably got an e-mail akin to this one:

Something fun is going on! Just write the color of your bra in your status. Just the colour, nothing else. Send this message on to ONLY girls --no men. It will be neat to see if this will spread the wings of cancer awareness. It will be fun to see how long it takes before the men will wonder why all the girls have a color in their status.

If you were on Facebook this weekend and are a non-stupid man, you probably got a good snicker... until you read that your mom's status update was "black lace with red satin choker."

Upon receiving this e-mail* I immediately saw my girlfriend's statuses lighting up like rainbows and, like the creative girls my friends are, they were rarely limited to "just the colour, nothing else." My friends described their undergarments in such fascinating detail that I felt like we had taken our relationship to a whole new level - the Girl's Gone Wild one.

Wanting to be in on all the fun, my fingers hovered over my keyboard ready to chime in when two thoughts occurred simultaneously: 1) Nursing bras are boring and 2) This might be the best frat-boy prank ever.

You know me - I am not shy about talking about my bra when the context warrants it - but something about this particular meme smacked of the adolescent days when boys snapped bra straps and girl's bras were considered the most magical pieces of cloth invented - even surpassing the Borat thong with their powers. Did you tell a boy the color of your bra just because he asked? Of course not. That ruined the mystique.

But boys have grown up and this time they added the "cancer awareness" tag to the tired come-on. Call me the Facebook Grinch (do I get a t-shirt?) but I don't see how this helps cancer patients or research at all. Is there anyone, male or female, who is not aware of breast cancer? Bras may be magical but I'm pretty sure they haven't invented one yet that cures cancer. (Side note: breast cancer is not the #1 killer of women. Heart disease is. It's not even the #1 cancer of women. That honor goes to the unsexy lung cancer.) When I expressed my grinch-i-tude on Facebook, one friend (whom I love even more knowing that she wears a purple polka-dot bra on a bleak Friday in January) said, "If it gets one woman to do a breast self-exam then it is worth it." She has a point. But I ask you, did any of you give yourselves a firm pat down upon reading a friend's bra color? I sure didn't. And also, as another friend pointed out, "The e-mail doesn't say breast cancer. How come no one is asking the men to post their boxer colors in support of testicular cancer?"

It was this disingenuity that bothered me about the bra-color meme. If my girls want to post their bra color (or underwear color or tupperware color or booger color) because it makes them happy then by all means go for it! But call it what it is: coy titillation. It feels like trickery and disrespect to tell women to bare their undies as a way to help "spread the wings of cancer awareness." How does "raising awareness" without raising money help anyone?

Because these things never go quietly into the dark (Internet) night, this morning I received a follow-up:

Since some woman spilled the beans, we created a new one to keep men guessing :):) Here is the game. this will get the guys thinking....To' see if they've got dirty minds or not!! It's not at all rude. lol. This is about how you are wearing your hair right now. up- write ON TOP, down- write SIDE BY SIDE, messy- write EVERYWHERE AND MESSY! see if they get this one! remember tho ONLY SEND TO WOMEN. This is also for Cancer as we know how many lose their hair fighting :(:(

This new meme ups the ante by more explicitly referencing sex and adding not only the generic cancer admonition but also a "lost hair" addendum to tug on your emotions. Thankfully none of my girlfriends have fallen for this one.

So let me have it: Do I just have no sense of humor? Am I missing the point? Did you post your bra color? What do you think of campaigns that "raise awareness" and nothing else?