Breast Cancer Awareness Month has come and gone, and once again it didn't come without a series of controversies as a result of advertisers and those cashing in on the cause.
From sexualisation and trivialisation of the disease, we take a look at what problems are facing breast cancer awareness month.
"Breast cancer has been sexualized and trivialized in an increasing number of campaigns, advertisements, and even news stories," says Dr Gayle Sulik, author of Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health and founder of the Breast Cancer Consortium.
"How many times does as an article about breast cancer feature a nude woman cupping her breasts, or a woman in a bra doing the same thing?"
The old adage rings true - sex sells. And it seems to be no different for advertisers using breast cancer awareness month to sell a product.
Many advertisers and companies have come under scrutiny for their campaigns. Criticism has been levelled against certain campaigns putting a cap on how much the company will donate to a breast cancer cause from the sale of a product, companies which use the breast cancer awareness ribbon without actually donating any money to the cause and companies who use the pink ribbon to sell products which ironically are thought to increase the risk of cancer (called pinkwashing).
"It is consumption-oriented, entertainment-based, festive, trendy, and targets consumers in the name of awareness but using typical marketing strategies aimed to increase participation in the cause and profit for the industry," Sulik says.
"Companies also use breast cancer awareness campaigns to parlay public interest in the cause into good PR and/or sales of other, unrelated products."
Projects like 'Think Before You Pink' aim to outline the way pink ribbon culture distracts from meaningful progress on breast cancer, focusing rather on campaigns that aim to actually take the cause forward.
Advertisers also try to appeal to male audiences through the sexualisation of inspection for breast cancer with slogans which encourage women to 'feel their boobs or get someone else to'.
Others try to rally men and women to 'save second base', as more and more images are published of women in sexualised poses in the name of raising awareness.
Advertisers have also been criticised for focusing solely on the loss of breasts as a reason to prevent breast cancer, rather than the risk it poses to women's lives.
"With the focus on breasts, cleavage, and 'saving the tatas' the message is that women are only whole if they have their breasts and are sexually attractive according to normative standards," Sulik says.
"Plastic surgeons capitalize on this message too, with the mission to 'make you whole again'."
"In addition to sexualizing women and breaking them into their parts, the language of some campaigns is also trivializing," says Sulik.
She cites slogans such as 'Save Second Base', 'Keep 'Em Looking Hooterific', "Jingle Jugs for the Cure' and 'Save the Boobies' as trivialising the realities of breast cancer.
"If we are light-hearted about women's bodies and sexuality, then we are not likely to give them the depth of attention they deserve," she says.
"The informality surrounding breast cancer coupled with fun-loving festivities tend to overlook the deep impact the disease can have on women's bodies, relationships and lives."
Body image of survivors
This focus also impacts on the body image of those who have survived breast cancer and undergone mastectomies.
Despite many advertisers trying to raise awareness about breast cancer, adverts including actual survivors are few and far between. Rather, many of the images used in pink ribbon advertising are said to marginalise survivors who have undergone mastectomies.
Tracey Derrick, a photographer and breast cancer survivor, says much of the pink ribbon advertising reinforces the unattainable images of women seen in the mainstream media.
"The message is the same as always - be beautiful, have two breasts, the perfect body, matching clothes and accessories - hide your mastectomy," she says.
"We are talking about it - great, but we don't actually show it" as it does not fit in with the perfect body image, she says.
Derrick chronicled her own fight against breast cancer in her One in Nine project, where she includes pictures of survivors as well as her own transformation after her mastectomy.
If Derrick could get one message across to survivors it would be this:
"Be real, be yourself," she says. "Scars are a part of our life's journey, they show who you are and what you have survived - that is something to be proud of."
"It means your life has been challenging and stimulating and you have been courageous."
So what can you do?
While the cause of breast cancer awareness has aspects which detract from this, there are also campaigns which really aim to make a difference over making a profit.
Sulik says to really raise awareness, we need to think more critically about the disease.
"Visibility of the cause is not awareness. Spectacle is not awareness. The colour pink is not awareness," she says. "Awareness (of anything) requires focus, attention and thought."
She says that there are a range of questions we should ask ourselves to truly assess a cause.
Next year, make sure to question the level of attention, focus and thought the campaign encourages, what actions it promotes, whether the action will affect the lives of those with breast cancer in a meaningful way.
She also says we should assess when the purchase of a product does more harm than good, such as in the case of pinkwashing.
"Could that action cause harm?" she asks. "By diverting attention or funds from something more useful; by encouraging someone to purchase a product that contains carcinogens; by spreading misinformation about the disease; by diminishing women as a group?"
People should also look at who really profits from the funds raised, where the money goes and who it really serves.
"If people ask these questions, they can decide for themselves whether any awareness campaign or fundraiser is really worth it."