Boobstagram Collects and Displays Breast Photos, Says Aim is to Boost Cancer Awareness

Boobstagram (Twitter)

I’m not sure what to make of Boobstagram. The French company breaches most cancer culture norms, if such exist. A headline in the UK’s Daily Mail reads: Women capture their cleavage on Instagram to raise awareness of cancer and encourage regular exams. And that pretty much sums it up.

The idea is for women to take photos of their breasts, send them in, and raise awareness about the importance of healthy breasts.

You can look and “like” Boobstagram on Facebook. Over 20,000 have registered their appreciation for the site, so far. The timeline reveals that Boobstagram opened a FB account last November and first uploaded images late in February. The About page starts with this message: Send us your boobs at boobstagram@… When I visited yesterday, at around 7PM EST, over 9,000 people were “talking” about Boobstagram on FB. Boobstagram’s Twitter following is on the small side, relatively, perhaps because it’s an image-oriented source of awareness., for those readers who use Blackberries or might be otherwise out-of-the-loop, is a phone app that lets you take and share photos in a flash. Coincidentally, Facebook recently purchased Instagram for $300 in cash, plus.

On its main website, the company’s tag line is translated into English: “Showing your boobs on the web is good, showing them to your doctor is better.” The explanation continues:

…The fight against cancer is long-standing…We cannot all become doctors or surgeons. But we can all take part in prevention, for ourselves, for our friends and family and for others. But how?

…How to avoid the pitfall of moralism ? How to build a popular communication matching with the up-to-date scientific knowledge ? And how to create a rather fun prevention campaign when most campaigns use fear ?<sic>

Capiche? Not sure I do. (Please forgive me if I mix languages and messages, for the moment.) This topic’s ripe, pre-blended. And sort-of fun, as things go here.

Fact is – once I’d narrowed the post topic selections to either Boobstagram or a recent report on 10 distinct genetic breast cancer variants, I chose Boobstagram. The Nature paper is very important work. Fox News called it a landmark study, correctly from what I’ve read elsewhere. I should read up on the new genotypes, and learn how those relate to old-fashioned BC subtypes, and the prognosis and potential for targeted therapies directed to each. And so should, I suppose, breast cancer patients and their loved ones who wish to make informed decisions. Practicing oncologists should know all about that paper by now, digested it entirely.

Business Insider covered Boobstagram, but overall there’s not been a whole lot of attention in the U.S. HuffPo U.K. was on it, but not here, where I might post if I choose. I’m not sure if I will, or should –

This company, founded by two men, seems to be having some fun with cancer, women’s breasts and phones. Is it exploitative? I’m not sure whether to laugh, cry, or blow it off as boys behaving badly. Or girls behaving badly. Or both, together, normally.

It’s sexist, yes – but so’s an ordinary half-time show during a football game, or a pair of 4-inch heels. Besides, many tolerate infantilizing and commercializing events in the context of BC awareness, as Gayle Sulik points out. Those campaigns – some tawdry, some tasteful, and usually bright pink – rake in money for research and patient care. Is Boobstagram so different? Strictly off-limits?

Seriously, what if the website brought in 180 million Euros through ads next year, and the company founders gave it all to the IARC and a few really solid cancer research agencies? Maybe next year their American friends will open a similar platform to raise money for the strapped NCI.

Are we too uptight? Or is the problem simply that the French website lacks meaningful relevance to any cancer cause?

The almost-obvious, pat and probably correct answer, would be to call out Boobstagram for what it’s worth: a farce. There’s no hint that this company has a specific plan or funds to support cancer research or help patients in any meaningful way. I can’t support it. But maybe – and this is a stretch – in the long term cultivating love, or admiration… of women’s breasts raises their value, and reminds us of the tragedy that is breast cancer.

Prevention would be a lot better than cutting, or lopping them off.


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  • Please. This is nothing more than a ploy to get women to bare their breasts. (and a great tactic to raise your blog traffic – you go!…)

    I think I’ll start an instagram site to raise awareness for penile cancer.


  • No ploys here, Peggy. Just 2 serious questions:
    1. Is awareness passé? (a big part of the Komen issue)
    2. Let’s say they were raising money purely for “cancer research and treatment.” What are the acceptable ways of going about that?

  • Wrong focus, as is often the case with so-called awareness programs. We’re already quite aware of breasts. The awareness needs to be on saving lives, not saving boobs.

    • Tricky, isn’t it? There’s the prevention end — and let’s face it, we’re not where we need to be on that. And then there’s the reality of metastatic breast cancer, for which there is no cure, and little research exclusively devoted to it. The problem is that so many ‘prevention’ campaigns are misleading and ill-informed, and too many have a prurient overlay, like this one.

  • Hi Elaine,

    To me it is yet another money raking idea that really is focusing on sex and hiding behind breast cancer. Breast cancer is the only cancer that generates a high income compared to others and it is common knowledge. Next these individuals will be encouraging images of men in boxer shorts to highlight testicular cancer. To me all or any one who decides to set up such, should be regulated. Making sure that a good percentage not 2%, 10% more like 50% or more is paid into cancer research. As it stands any Tom, Dick or Harry can set up whatever and decide how much money they will donated. I was in shock when I investgated a company that was selling novelty fairies priced at $30 and only 2% of the $30 went to a breast cancer.. but charity not named.
    If anyone really wants to help then personally pay the money direct into a breast cancer charity rather than into someones pocket. And raise awareness by holding a coffee morning or event with the charities backing.

  • This site is only masquerading as an ‘awareness’ site. There’s not a single shred of credible information, education, link to resources, OR a way to donate. Additionally, their name may be infringing on Instagram’s copyright and it’s surprising FB would condone that given that they recently purchased Instagram. And the pictures are nothing but soft porn for the cheap (no credit card required). These definitely violate FB’s terms of service and it’s beyond hypocritical that photos from the Scar Project would be censored when these are allowed. The women sending these photos in are as reprehensible as the site itself.

    Sarah makes a very legitimate point (and one that I’ve long felt should be the standard). Why aren’t organizations raising money for any cause (regardless of their size) being regulated? Komen wouldn’t pass the sniff test and the majority of companies slapping pink ribbons on products are profiting handsomely while giving a meager percentage of proceeds to cancer research (if any at all).

    While people argue that a few cents is better than nothing at all, I’d counter that with the fact that all of this ‘awareness’ is only creating a culture of “Slacktivism”. No one reads the find print or knows that many companies cap their donations to a certain amount. People would never accept this kind of ROI if it were a financial investment, and yet, few if any challenge where their money is going. The same people who fork over $20 for a pair of pink slippers they many not really need would be outraged if they knew how little of their dollar is going to the stated cause. Yet, they sit back feeling good that they’ve done their share when (maybe)$2 has gone to the cause.

    When the solicitation comes in the mail for a cash donation, they may give less (due to multiple pink purchases they’ve made) when they might otherwise write a check for $20 that would actually go to the underlying cause! That’s the danger of all of the proliferation of pink.

    The regulation needs to go even further … perhaps differentiating a ribbon that is the equivalent of the ‘good housekeeping seal’ so the buyer knows the product has been vetted, does not represent a risk-factor for BC (hello, KFC, alcoholic beverages), and is giving a required minimum to research. Because even without slacktivism, we are painfully aware that entities such as Komen have been using donations to cover massive overheads and are giving appalling little to research.

  • Thank you all for your comments.

    Still, I’m not 100% settled about it. Seems like most recoil, semi-automatically. If the site (or, for the purposes of discussion, something similar, a registered NPO) were legit, and raised money for cancer research and patient care – would we tolerate it?

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