Solving the bra color Facebook puzzle
The world awoke Friday to discover that Davi’s bra is black. Janet’s is blue with bows. Kim’s is pink. And Susan’s is a “decadent beige.”
The colors were, at first at least, somewhat mystifyingly posted on thousands upon thousands of Facebook pages as their status updates, without any context. Just colors. “White .. for today anyway!” wrote Kerri.
By midday, the color craze had gone viral on the Internet and around the globe, as had the word that the colors were really bra colors. Almost immediately, cyber-arguments erupted about what it all meant. The blogosphere went wild. Was so openly and willingly posting something as intimate as one’s bra color an attempt to raise breast cancer awareness? Or was it all just another Facebook ‘send your friend a snowball’ or ‘take your celebrity boyfriend quiz’ silly game? A meme?
Whatever it is, its impact was immediate and dramatic: As bra colors went flying around the net, something strange happened at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. After two years of intensive efforts to boost its profile through social networking, hiring two full-time people to do solely that, within two hours Friday morning, their fan base on Facebook exploded from 135 to 700.
"This would fall into the unprecedented category. We’ve never had a spike like this,” said spokesman John Hammerley. “We don’t care if it’s a $20 million campaign or a, what do you call it, a kind of electronic chain letter asking for your bra color. It’s fun. It gets people talking, and hopefully, it will lead folks to really getting a greater awareness of something that’s going to affect one in eight American women.”
Then the men weighed in. "Post your boxer color (Guys)" because “it’s about time guys got to proclaim the color of their undergarments too” had 21 fans.
No one could figure out who started it all. But they couldn’t stop talking about it.
As far as anyone can tell so far, the bra color craze started, in the United States at least, a few days ago with a chain letter email on Facebook that went viral. The email went something like this: “Some fun is going on ... just write the color of your bra in your status. Just the color, nothing else. It will be neat to see if this will spread the wings of breast cancer awareness. It will be fun to see how long it takes before people wonder why all the girls have a color in their status Haha.” Some versions of the message included gleeful mention of how confused boys would be by it.
But like anything that goes viral, what started as a trickle on Tuesday or Wednesday became a full-blown fad by week's end.
Davi McDonald saw the color in her aunt Judy’s status update on Facebook, asked her what was up, then posted her own bra color and sent the email along to her friends. One of those friends, Janice M. Shaddox Lee, posted her bra color “in honor and memory of my mother, who passed away from breast cancer 13 years ago, and in honor of my friend who is a breast cancer survivor. I also did it to bring awareness to others to get regular mammograms.”
By Friday afternoon, some people complained that solely posting a color, without linking to a breast cancer awareness website, or asking for a donation to a breast cancer research organization, was little more than a a silly game or crass attempt to get attention from men.
“I think the thing about posting your bra color was so incredibly dumb," said Tanya Alteras. “I have a friend who is in her late 20s, just had a double mastectomy, chemo, and is now going through radiation, and she was furious about this. How this raises awareness about breast cancer is beyond me. It’s all about making a silly inside joke, and trying to make it meaningful. When you have people posting 'Saran wrap' it just becomes offensive.”
Some breast cancer survivors blogged about the heart-wrenching decision of whether to post a bra color or not. “I wrote ‘None - in fact, I don’t even OWN one,’” blogged one survivor, who noted that many of her friends who’d had mastectomies began writing “Nude.” “Nothing.”
Shana Aucsmith initially deleted the chain letter she got. Just another Facebook fad, she thought. Another time-suck. But within hours of deleting it Friday morning, she began seeing bra colors pop up all over her friends’ Facebook pages from around the country. And some of these friends, she knew, had survived breast cancer.
“It was astounding how quickly the word had spread,” she said. “So, I decided to post my bra color to show support for them. I thought of writing black, because it sounds sexier, but I told the truth and wrote beige ... Now everyone knows how boring I am.”
Still, one mystery remains: Whose idea was this?
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