Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Outer Limits

As you all know I am the creator and curator of the infamous "Pink Boob Awards Gallery", where I archive the most heinous and downright ludicrous examples of pink ribbon and breast cancer awareness stuff.

Now before I am accused of blatant hypocrisy in light of the current "boobies" debate, I use the term "boob" in my British English mother tongue as a colloquial descriptor of a serious mistake or blunder.  The double entendre as slang for breast is completely intentional and is used to highlight the lunacy and deep irony of many aspects of the pink ribbon culture which I am confronted with on an almost daily basis.

In my never-ending quest to collect examples to showcase in the Gallery there are certain items which I consider to be "holy grails". The most extreme and hard-to-find-or-imagine examples.  Those which cause the mind to terminally boggle in such a way that could only be cured by an immediate lobotomy.

There is one item on my holy grail list, which I periodically search for, really hoping that I will never find, but knowing deep down that indeed I will find it one day.

Friends, today is that day.  Upon finding this item I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, and I hesitated in bringing it your attention.  But ultimately this blogs theme is breast cancer and the ubiquitous culture that we find ourselves involuntarily entrenched in, so I decided it was important to let you be the judge.

I want to be clear, that I am not judging the woman who is at the center of this very sad story.  This was her choice and I respect that.  I also want to warn that some readers may find this story and related imagery upsetting.

But this is where we are.  Pink ribbon culture has now invaded and gone beyond the outer limits of what I could ever have imagined.

So take a look, and if you are so inclined, please share your reactions.

Click here for the story.


  1. Impossible for me to understand - but somehow the pink coffin brought this woman happiness. It was her way of taking charge of her own destiny. I applaud that - she isn't selling anything or foisting it on anyone else.


    PS -Years ago she probably would have decorated her coffin with astrological signs.

  2. Jody's right, but dang, this is just nuts. The underlying message bothers me -- not only do you have to live pink, you have to die pink. No mention of suffering, pain, loss... all just pink goodness. And the focus on breasts over lives bothers me too.

    And these lines from the artist sound like they could be from Spinal Tap:

    "I started thinking about painting ethereal boobs, but the more I painted, the more realistic they got," Taylor said.

    "I wanted to make them subtle, but boobs aren't subtle are they? They need to stand out. They're beautiful boobs."

  3. This story made me incredibly sad. On the one hand, I think we can all relate on one level to the way that breast cancer seems to take over your life, defining it to a degree none of us could have ever anticipated.

    On the other hand, breast cancer defined the end of this woman's life, surely not all the years that came before. Surely this woman's life had meaning before breast cancer took it from her.

    What saddens me as much as the loss of her life is the loss of her perspective & her identity to breast cancer. But perhaps she saw the coffin as a way of having the last laugh.

  4. This story is very sad and I can't really understand it either. That huge pink ribbon on the coffin, displayed as if it were a good thing rather than the truth. Now, if proper attention were paid to research which in turn saved her life, I could understand the symbol being there. But, simply for awareness? No, it would be similar to painting the face of a killer on their victim's coffin. No doubt there are better ways to remember this woman.

  5. It's not my taste, but it is her funeral...

    Let us just pause and be so very grateful she did have ovarian or anal cancer...

  6. Stacey,
    You have hit the nail on the head with the painting a killers face on her coffin. Why would you want to honor your killer?
    Yes, this is over the top, but if it is what makes her happy (shudder) then that is awesome for her.
    I certainly wont be putting hundred of giant nasty liver tumors on my coffin that is for sure! My friends and family would kick my behind, or wonder if my sanity was affected by my chemo as well (maybe it is:)
    You are right, pink booby coffin takes the cake.

  7. I'm going to have to process this one for a bit. I'm sort of speechless right now.

    I would never tell a woman what to get comfort from in her last days, but that certainly highlights the overpowering pink message, doesn't it?

    lol@ihatebreastcancer. :)

  8. Reading the article and comments raises other questions for me:

    Why would putting ovaries or anuses be worse?

    I am trying to live a long time but I will be in some sort of treatment for cancer for all that time. So, I wonder, will I have spent more time on having cancer than other things in my life?

    How is this different from the people who buy coffins with the favorite sports team or their school colors?

  9. I am giving this one some time to think about too. On the one hand, I think to myself, it's her life, it's her death -- and earlier on in my breast cancer journey, I DID get some comfort from all things pink, knowing I wasn't going through this alone.

    But on the other hand, I don't know. I hope it doesn't become a trend.

  10. Wow. Like ButDoctorIHatePink, I'm kind of speechless, too. I think I could almost understand a pink coffin, or even one with just boobs all over it (different!) or even the stupid pink ribbon, but all three is a bit much. Again, if it helps her cope, then it's all good, I suppose...

    Carey, not trying to speak for anyone here, but I think the VISUAL on the coffin had this been about anal or ovarian cancer would have made keeping a straight face at the funeral a little difficult. BTW, I think folks who do the sport teams/school colors/bury me in my coffin made to look like my pimped-out ride thing are a little out there - but that's just me :-)...

    Thanks for sharing, Anna...

  11. the whole "pink movement" just bothers me , makeing money out of pain , but i guess as some one else said here she is doing for her self and no one else , so on that hand its ok , its just sad that she feels that defines her as a person.

    I all ways liked the funeral on the big c, and have said to my husband i want to do that , so i just im a little nuts too.

    I guess the biggest thing for me is that i used the cold caps to save my hair so the cancer didn't define me as a person, so may be she has just lost so much of her self "pink" is all she has left....

  12. Just a moment, I'm picking my jaw up off the floor. Personally, I am waiting for a giant pink ribbon symbol to appear on the Space Station. Or maybe one of the female astronauts could wear a pink 'awareness' spacesuit - ha. Can you imagine this lady's funeral service if she's religious? I want to see the look on the clergyman's face when he gets his first look at her casket being brought into the church...

  13. I think, Carey, the issue that people have with such a thing, is that it will start a trend. Someone, somewhere out there in a Funeral Director Home will start producing and selling them. Whether or not as a result of this piece of news, is neither here nor there. On another note, I cant help but wonder what Komens reaction would be to this? Would it be the jolt that says to the average 'think pink' proponent, that 'boobie cancer' is in fact a real killer and coffins is what people end up in when they dont get the fucking research they'd been promised for x amount of years?

  14. I respect her wishes, but like many have tried to say your killer is not your friend. The more I tread these blogs the more I understand the reasoning for being angry. BC is being twisted into a OK symbol. It is ok to have BC because you have become part of some elite group of pink.NOT!
    Surely someone must take control of the money spinning going on. Next they will be producing coffins on mass just like the image this woman is in, but who will be getting the cash?
    This whole situation is uncomfortable I must admit...

  15. Dear all - thank you all for your insightful comments. This was a tricky one for me to write about. I too felt very sad for this lady and the fact that her life seemed to have been so defined by breast cancer. I also felt uncomfortable in that it all felt dangerously close to being almost a celebration of breast cancer and not her life. I do have to wonder though how long it's going to be before we see the "breast cancer special" becomes reality at the local funeral home. Not too far if not already I'd wager. I found myself very confronted and so conflicted by this story and I tank you all for sharing your reactions. Pink culture gone wild to be sure.

  16. WOW. I respect her choice but I told my husband a long time ago if that ever happens to me I do NOT want any damn pink ribbons at my funeral. We recently went to a funeral for the wife of a colleague of his. I have a bit of an accidental pink ribbon pin collection & chose not to wear one to the funeral. Then I saw the basket of pink ribbons and her whole brokenhearted family wearing them. So I grabbed one and pinned it to my suit jacket out of respect. But I have to tell you it felt kind of like having someone you love killed in Afghanistan, and sporting an Afghan flag to their service.

  17. I think that bugoliath nailed it - it's like having a coffin dedicated to your serial killer.

    I think it's vastly different than having a sports team on the coffin for that very reason. (assuming the team didn't kill the person!!)

    I also agree "to each her own" on this, but dayum.


  18. the scary thing for me was this was a New Zealand women,(like myself)and I hadn't realised how pervasive the 'pink nation' was. while I support pink ribbon day that raises funds for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation and have some tee-shirts with the pink ribbon theme when I wear them I tend to use the opportunity to tell people about my sort of breast cancer IBC the one without a lump and doesnt show up in mammograms. People are shocked because with all the 'Breast Cancer Awareness' they have never heard of it. While I am very tempted to have a personalised coffin (purple will definitely feature being my favourite colour) I cant think of anything worse that glorifying the pink ribbon and the breast cancer that will probably kill me

  19. I'm at a loss for words. At one side, it's sad that there's such a coffin....something I couldn't imagine existed.

    However, I do feel for the woman, and I have to admire how she's embraced her breast cancer in death.

    Hard call. If it works to comfort her, then it's OK, I think.

  20. Anna,
    Pretty bind boggling for sure. I guess to each their own. If this is what she wants, so be it. The trend possibility here frightens me... More pink for profit.

  21. I understand this woman desire to take charge & have the "last word," but I can only hope that she sees herself as more than a woman who died of breast cancer. Dying from breast cancer is bad enough, but being entombed in pink ribbons is certainly not my thing.


  22. Yes, this got me thinking too.... after all it's her death and if it's giving her comfort then surely that's OK? But Sarah Mendoza's comment there sums it up - 'BC is being twisted into a OK symbol.' And we all know, it's profoundly not OK.

  23. Thanks for posting, and the laughs. I am 14 months into treatments...and every step of the way I've been disgusted with the money made off of this campaign...Lighters, Wine bottles, Seriously??? Blog away sistah, you are awesome!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.