In its latest attempts to promote “Breast Cancer Awareness” month, Burger King Arabia launched an advertisement where two burgers are portrayed as breasts, one with a chicken patty and the other one without, representing a cancerous breast which has been removed.
The ad, only one of many, is incredibly flawed and objectifies women far more than it raises awareness of breast cancer. First, the healthy breast is portrayed as full and big, which contributes to hegemonic beauty standards. Moreover, the full burger looks appealing and mouthwatering while the empty burger stands as a sharp contrast. For breast cancer survivors who have been through a mastectomy, this portrayal is not too kind . Another thing is that breasts are already sexualized enough, and having burgers – a food item – instead of breasts, is even more demeaning. The ad reads, “Don’t wait”. Instead of encouraging women to get a mammogram before it’s too late, it comes off as a warning: don’t wait until your breasts are no longer appealing.
Women are still being objectified and sexualized even when it’s related to their health. Such ads are encouraging women to get a checkup not because they fear for their health, but because they will no longer be appealing and attractive. Perhaps it was not the intention of the ad, but the underlying message is still there. Alternative strategies for advertising about “Breast Cancer Awareness” could be employed, without demeaning the women suffering from it.
Moreover, even with more progressive ads, many campaigns disregard the fact that many women are unable to afford a mammography. Such ads are encouraging women to get a checkup, but they do not actually do anything to help them do so.
Along with spreading awareness about breast cancer, we are responsible for providing the financial resources to women so that they can do a mammography. As students at AUB, home to one of the most important medical centers in the region, we should be responsible for giving at least the students and staff a free mammography during “Breast Cancer Awareness” month.
If we do not offer the women resources to actually do a checkup, are we actually doing anything by advertising about it? “Breast Cancer Awareness” month has become a commercial discussion about breasts, rather than being a concrete step towards progress. Let us make it about the women this time around.