“Mamming”: the not trend sweeping no nations

“MAMMING”! It’s a fad that’s fab!

This is what I thought when I saw this article:

Sassy Gay Friend thinks you need to reconsider posting these pictures on the internet.

Two women named Michelle Jaret and Michelle Lamont “invented” “mamming” to raise “awareness” about mammograms. The breasty equivalent of bygone internet memes like planking, “mamming” is supposed to be a fun, G-rated way to encourage women to get screened for breast cancer. You can see more examples at http://www.thisismamming.com, but why would you want to? 

I’m feeling increasingly suspicious of mammograms these days, particularly the way they are touted as preventative care. A quote from one of the mammo-Michelles illustrates this point well: Michelle Lamont (who works for an advertising agency, of course) says “When I was sick, I asked my doctors about a cure – one actually told me that the best cure we have is prevention. […] Prevention is screening like mammograms and self-exams and they are the best tool we have to catch cancer early, and catching it early is how we beat it.” For the record, mammograms do not prevent cancer. Period. Full stop. If categorizing mammograms as preventative care for insurances purposes makes them more affordable and more widely available, then I’m for it, but let’s not pretend that it cures anything. Survival rates for breast cancer have more to do with the biological makeup of a woman’s particular tumors than with catching cancer early: you can catch cancer at stage one and still die from it. Happens all the time. Mammograms are a good tool, women need them, and BRCA+ women need them more than most, but they are not magic bullets for breast cancer prevention or treatment.

As for “mamming” (you don’t actually think I’m going to use that term without scare quotes, do you?), let me count the ways that I hate it:

1. OMG BOOBS! On top of the things! BOOBS ON THINGS are so interesting!

2. It’s important to Raise Awareness. Because people aren’t already aware of breast cancer. Most people have never heard of it. I heard it happened to a woman in Idaho who is a friend of my cousin’s boyfriend’s boss’s ex-wife, but I can’t be sure.

3. Humor is a totally appropriate way to deal with a deadly, gory, disfiguring disease that destroys people’s lives. It’s hilarious, don’t be so uptight. I wish that I could see the funny, but I can’t because I threw away my sense of humor when I became a card carrying feminist.

4. It claims to try to make fun of the awkwardness of mammograms, so that more women will get them. But is awkwardness keeping women from getting mammograms? I doubt it.

6. It claims to be G rated, but at the end of the day it sexualizes breast cancer. Again.

7. Almost all the women in these photos are in their 20s. Should women that young be encouraged to get mammograms? No. Not unless they have a BRCA+ mutation or a very, very strong family history of breast cancer, in which case they probably don’t need to be told to get screening.

8. Putting aside the issue of how overhyped mammograms are, this lame meme is not going to inspire anyone to get a mammogram.