Photograph — Oboyorganic

National No Bra Day is being observed around the world today. Women and men have taken to the internet with #NoBraDay to show support for a very important cause – breast cancer. The origins of No Bra Day are a bit skewed, but it is celebrated annually on October 13 (October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month). The day is set aside to raise awareness about how breast cancer survivors cannot go without a bra following their surgery, thus reminding women how important it is to get screened for breast cancer.

However the significance of this awareness day is easily hidden beneath its campaign slogan, as a majority of people are usually in a hurry to make jokes before recognising the true message that the slogan is trying to pass across. Especially on social media.

Catchy slogans and hashtags are popular, but more importantly can be used to draw attention to a subject matter or pressing issue. In a number of cases, reactions to these social media campaigns have been negative, as people expressed their discomfort with the titles, even though they are generally helpful and come from a place with good intentions.

Some examples of campaign hashtags that may sound ridiculous but are actually driving awareness for a serious cause include:

#fingerprickingood Finger Prickin’ Good is a slogan that was developed around 2012 to raise awareness for diabetic patients to emphasize the importance of measuring their blood glucose levels. Although #fingerprickingood garnered very few mentions on Twitter, the message for diabetes still remains that the procedure helps to reduce the number of existing emergencies in diabetic cases.

#redmylips This campaign was launched by Danielle Tansino who was assaulted while intoxicated, and didn’t get a fair trial. The purpose of the campaign is to fight against sexual assault around the world by encouraging people to post images of themselves on social media wearing bright red lipstick. Sexual assault is a serious crime which occurs in different forms around the world. According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), sexual assault is never the victim’s fault.

#nokiddingmetoo World Mental Health Day was on October 10, and this year the WHO’s theme was “Dignity in Mental Health. It goes without saying that the consequences of mental illness, such as stigma (which the hashtag is aimed at), and the importance of mental health are ongoing global combats that the hashtag – intention acknowledged – ‘No Kidding Me Too’ doesn’t quite do justice to in one take.

#smearforsmear This particular hashtag represents one of many campaigns that have been unsuccessful. The Smear for Smear campaign is directed towards the prevention of Cervical Cancer, but many who are uncomfortable with the idea of getting a smear test find it quite disturbing.

#dudesgreetingdudes Women didn’t even have to start this one, as one man went on Twitter and decided to prove how catcalling bellied double standards, harassment, oppression, and inequality against women. For the most part, the hashtag was hailed for its comic approach to these issues, significantly reducing ho0w effective the underlying message actually is.

Another issue which lies with hashtag activism is the question of its effectiveness in provoking useful actions from people. Blogger, Avi Sholkoff posits that hashtag activism is here to stay, while giving concrete examples for how and why they are effective (#icebucketchallenge and #Ferguson as examples).  Also, there has been some controversy surrounding what has been termed “slackitivism”. This arguments points out how people usually follow the trending hashtags, while ignoring or trivialising their subject matter. The reality is that these hashtags, deliberately ridiculous as they appear, have their merits as well as demerits. Thus, people should make out the important aspect of the hashtag by using social media for a greater good.

People are encouraged to observe this day by going without a bra throughout the day and/or wearing a white T-shirt (for the ladies), using the hashtags #NoBraDay or #NationalNoBraDay on social media, making an appointment for a mammogram, and contributing to cancer societies. The option to wear the colour purple as any form of clothing item or accessory is included for men, and for women who must wear a bra on the day.

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