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The bra color craze

What's going on?


I logged into Facebook this morning and found that a bunch of my friends were freely posting the color of their bras. Black. Pink. Blue with Bows. White "for today anyway." And my favorite, "Decadent Beige." (Do I really want to know this?)

One friend had sent me a message on Wednesday telling me to post my bra color in my status update as a way to raise breast cancer awareness. (I deleted it thinking it was another one of those -send your friend a snowball, or find out your hippie name kind of Facebook time-sucks.)

Are you posting your bra color? Is this really raising awareness for breast cancer or some kind of social media viral fad? (And tan with little daisies embroidered on the straps, black with blue flowers and black with red lace if you must know ...)

Send me a message on Facebook. E-mail me Or send me a Tweet and tell me your story - not necessarily your bra color ...

By Brigid Schulte  | January 8, 2010; 11:46 AM ET
Categories:  Build-A-Story  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Pick of the Day: Namath all night long
Next: Solving the bra color Facebook puzzle


what a grouch.
take the buyout already.

Posted by: nancyjeanmail | January 8, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

what's a facebook?

Posted by: jlstillman | January 8, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I do not find it exciting, however, I do think this is the kind of cultural acclimation that will just continue to make us more open about EVERYTHING, to the point where we might actually find something exciting being put forth, at which point, I will finally sign up for facebook. Girls, when men want to see you in your underclothes or look at your tattoos, they are really looking at your bod, not your bra or tattoos, in case you did not know.

Posted by: top-gorilla | January 8, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I joined FaceBook, last month when I turned 66. My friend's at church were talking about it, and I tried it, I thought that FaceBook was a place where people could come together and talk have fun, I find it where anyone , anybody can send and do all sort's of thing's on FaceBook (on line), and no spell check, lol. Can we not have a place where we all could come and just enjoy LIFE

Posted by: onesugar1 | January 8, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who is not already aware of breast cancer must live under an enormous rock. Enough.

Posted by: BeavisfromMontana | January 8, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

My, what a lovely group of individuals this comments section has attracted so far.

To the point of the post, I don't really see how women shouting out colors helps the fight against breast cancer at all. Nor do I think it's particularly titillating (pardon the pun). It seems to have mostly succeeded in spawning a series of predictable lame jokes related to alleged bralessness or men wearing bras.

Posted by: ryanem1 | January 8, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

"raise breast cancer?" I think you meant "raise breast cancer awareness.

That said, the only real harm here comes if people think posting their bra color actually does much for women or for the cause.

Some of my friends are posting links to places like and their recent discussions on the mammography screening guidelines. That's made it worth it to me.

Posted by: actionrobertson | January 8, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I think underwear color would be much more interesting. Not to mention the boxers vs. briefs dichotomy.

Posted by: econgrrl | January 8, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

While everyone is aware of breast cancer, yes, it escalated awareness for a day or 2. And gave pause to remember friends that have had this. It was also simply fun and built commraderie among women. Posting only a color word as your status were the instructions. Nothing about burlesque, body parts, or identification of what the color refered to were to be included.

It was certainly more helpful than having some government task force try to reduce preventive screenings for breast cancer.

Posted by: tracycoyote | January 8, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for your comments - even nancyjean who calls me a grouch. (me? a grouch?!) It seems the bra color fad on Facebook treads the line between sheer silly fun, the kind that Facebook traffics in (and yes, I've taken the 'Who is Your Celebrity Boyfriend" Quiz if you must know) and a possibly powerful attempt to use new media to promote health and the social good. It's interesting, however, that it went so viral, so fast. That so many of us were so willing to share such intimate details so quickly. What does that mean? Have any of you women either posted or not posted your bra color? Why or why not? Send me an email - at the link above or let me know if you want to talk on the phone. I'm writing this story today.

Posted by: BrigidSchulte | January 8, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

agreed with you Bevis. however i don't think this was anything to analyze or be upset about. if anything, it's just another way to show how women can come together and bring attention to a cause.

Posted by: jec128 | January 8, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Just about every status I've seen like that has been followed by several people asking what's going on, and no explanation in return. Doesn't seem to be effective at raising awarness if it's treated like an inside joke.

Posted by: yampaco | January 8, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Since I've spent the past few days wondering what the random "white", "tan", and "blue" meant, I'd say that my awareness of breast cancer has not been heightened.

Posted by: mlc2 | January 8, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

What's a bra?

Posted by: djmolter | January 8, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Okayyyy. We are doing favorite s-- positions today on facebook, write the animal in your status that matches your favorite position and don't tell they guys to raise awarness about dumb Washington Post articles. Do you want to write an article about that too?

Posted by: love2much SE | January 8, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Love2much SE: OUCH! Why is this a dumb article? This is a trend that has swept the internet, people are blogging about it, talking about it, messaging each other about it. And isn't that the point of the media, taking what is, the way we live and looking more closely at it. Isn't that what storytelling is all about? Helping us tell our own stories to ourselves? If people were going as crazy writing about their favorite s__ positions, then, absolutely, it would be something to explore - don't you think?

Posted by: BrigidSchulte | January 8, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I logged in today and wondered what was going on myself. I always start from the oldest posts at the bottom to catch up before I read any emails in the Inbox. So when I got to one friend who said she wasn't wearing anything and the subsequent comments about being commando, I thought we were talking underwear! I immediately felt bad that I couldn't remember what color underwear I had just put on! Once I got the the Inbox and saw the email, I understood what was going on and proudly posted "Dingy White". Even if the start of the frenzy was viral, it got me to think about breast cancer and how important it is to take you health into your own hands!

Posted by: spideywmn | January 8, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I knew someone that died from Breast Cancer...He didn't wear a bra...

Posted by: Krazijoe | January 8, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I, too did not know what the colors meant. When I finally found out I found it very dumb. An awareness campaign that operates as an inside joke? An inside joke, by the way, that you are explicitly instructed not to tell "the boys" about? By excluding men from this awareness quest, the masterminds behind this little endeavour are only perpetuating the myth that breast cancer is only a woman's issue. Men get breast cancer too, people. And even if they didn't, why would we want to exclude half of our potential support base? Women have enough trouble having their health issues recognized (how many women suffer from undiagnosed heart disease because it's not a "woman's issue"?) that the last thing we need is to purposely exclude potential help, like it is some sort of secret club to have or be at risk for breast cancer.

Posted by: bloobedyblah | January 8, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Maybe you can ask Peter Criss from Kiss, what color bra he wears?

Posted by: Krazijoe | January 8, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

NO INTIMATE DETAILS WERE SHARED if instructions were followed. Your question is moot and akin to attempting to create a mtn out of a molehill. All you did was post a simple color by your status. Like 'blue'. Some posted 'pink and brown polka dots'. And, please,isn't it obvious it went viral because it was treated as a 'secret', for women only 'no boys allowed'? And consider that it did escalate existing awareness albeit temporarily. It wasn't intended to make everyone informed or solve the problem.

And it did re-raise the stupidity of the recommended reduction in pre-screening for breast cancer among my 100+ friends.

Posted by: tracycoyote | January 8, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I think this is a great article/idea for a story, & very current! This whole bra thing is very timely in that it sort of refers back to some of the points made in the Malcolm Gladwell book, _The Tipping Point_ : what are some of the reasons that mindless (and, in this case, personal) fads stick? As I was thinking about this phenenomena, it reminded me of the whole crowd wave thing that takes place in stadiums; what motivates people for their participation in that? What keeps that going?

I didn't post my bra color - maybe bc it's not exciting to write that it is white or perhaps it's really TMI and/or does it really get women to go seek exams? I'd be curious to know more about the person who started this fad.

Excellent article! Those who don't get, just don't get it! ;-)


Posted by: kmh2 | January 8, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

My theory about this, and about the ubiquitous pink ribbon symbols (on the Costco lint rollers, really?) is that it's really a campaign initiated by men looking for any opportunity to focus on women's breasts. ;-)

Posted by: thingsfallapart | January 8, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"a way to raise breast cancer"?

Posted by: subwayguy | January 8, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Post a picture please, baby.

Posted by: DaMan2 | January 8, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm a young woman who did post my bra color.

Did this solve any major global health issues? No. Was it completely silly? Yes. But it did make me stop and think for a few seconds about breast cancer awareness and the women I've known who had breast cancer.

Sometimes it only takes a few extra seconds of thinking about it to convince a woman to do a self exam or for a woman to make that appointment for her next mammogram. The point was to get the discussion started. Clearly it worked.

Posted by: youngnss | January 8, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

just to make it fair, men should update their status with the color of their boxers or briefs for prostate cancer awareness.

Posted by: sandiego4 | January 8, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I too received the "bra color" email on Facebook and while I really didn't think that just posting my bra color would bring anymore awareness to the Breast Cancer cause I did it anyway. Why? - well it was just FUN and I don't think revealing someone's bra color is giving up an intimate detail. The way some people dress these days, showing every body part you can imagine, just telling your bra color is not a big deal.

Posted by: LadyT1 | January 8, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Love2much SE: OUCH! Why is this a dumb article? This is a trend that has swept the internet, people are blogging about it, talking about it, messaging each other about it. And isn't that the point of the media, taking what is, the way we live and looking more closely at it. Isn't that what storytelling is all about? Helping us tell our own stories to ourselves? If people were going as crazy writing about their favorite s__ positions, then, absolutely, it would be something to explore - don't you think?
Brigid good feeback - but I thought story telling was fiction and news was reporting current events that effect our world as we know it. At least that's what I learned while on the newsdesk. I'd like to see less storytelling in our "media" and more news reporting. No offense but I think your snip-it is more blog worthy then news worthy.

Posted by: love2much SE | January 8, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Here's what I posted on my FB page last night. It was too long for a status update, so I put part of it in the status update and then commented on it.

(My Name) is not posting the color of my bra because cancer awareness is about more than that. It's talking about things like rectal exams, prostate exams, colonoscopies, self breast exams, yearly pap/pelvics, listening to your body and being proactive if something's not right. Asking questions, doing research - empowering yourself and others. Not accepting the lack of information and resources if you or someone you care about is in their 20s and 30s and has cancer. Demand more. Be loud and be brave and then maybe true awareness will occur and we can change the world!

As a 37 year-old woman who has had 2 different kinds of cancer in the last 38 months, I find the whole bra color status craze really dumb. It's not doing anything to raise awareness. I have seen bra colors listed in probably over 25 of my FB friends' status updates and the comments underneath it were not about cancer. I have not seen a single comment that is doing anything to raise any awareness about any kind of cancer. No one is saying, "when you turn 40, get a mammogram." "do your self-breast exams once a week." "when you turn 50, get a colonoscopy." "get your yearly pap/pelvic." "don't be embarrassed if there's blood in your stool - go to the doctor!" "if you're under 40 and you have cancer and your going to lose your fertility due to pelvic radiation, contact" Nope, nothing like that.

Maybe my views are a little different since I've had cancer - twice. And having cancer in your 20s or 30s presents a whole unique set of issues that no other demographic who has cancer deals with. I believe in meaningful awareness and fundraising campaigns. Ones that actually do something. Facebook could be a powerful tool for a real awareness raising campaign. If every woman who is posting their bra color posted something telling a friend who is turning 40 to remember to get their mammogram or a parent who is turning 50 to get their colonoscopy or reminding every woman to have a yearly pap/pelvic exam - that would be raising awareness!

Thanks for blogging about this!

Posted by: Cmorsedc | January 8, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I have not logged into my facebook account for a couple of days because I can't access it from work and by the time I battle the beltway to get home I was too tired to. Thus I was not aware of this trend of posting colors or why.

I personally have 3 relatives with breast cancer and am very aware of the issues related to it.

I would never post such private personal information on the web, regardless of the cause supposedly being supported by it. I believe that my bra and underwear colors or lack thereof are for me to know. Perhaps the salesperson who sells me my undergarments might make a good guess if they tried, but unless I choose to remove my outer clothing for someone, hopefully no one else would ever have reason to know for certain what color I was wearing.

Besides which, this kind of thing is the sort of thing that comes back and haunts you later during job interviews and background checks, or as I just recently discovered during divorce proceedings when things you post online can be interpreted quite differently than originally intended.

Posted by: RazorGirl | January 8, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Why are you wearing 3 bras?

Posted by: numbers1 | January 8, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I think this is dumb. I have friends of all ages on FB, and don't care to have a visual of their lingere. My eyes = X X

Posted by: Sharon_59 | January 8, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

defensive as well as grouchy.
bring back Joel, and can this dopey reporter. so-called....

Posted by: nancyjeanmail | January 8, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

It was just a little fun among girls to remind us all of how we need to support others and take care of ourselves. Sheesh, must people overthink everything?

Posted by: jennybird1 | January 8, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

With the large number of people (yes men jokingly participated also) that posted, I think that this COULD have been an effective way to raise awareness for breast cancer. However, the chance was missed by not providing a call for action with the posts. Adding a link to donate to the cause would have made this more than just a viral craze.

Posted by: JennLynne | January 8, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Great discussion/comments everyone. And you're right, I DID post three bra colors (hmm, I have two that are beige...and didn't mention the sports bras...) - guess I posted before I had any idea what was going on. I have a better sense now - we'll be updating this post.
The argument rages - was this a joke/ does it raise breast cancer awareness - but I'll just add one really interesting factoid. The Susan g. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation had 135 facebook fans at the start of the business day this morning. In 2 hours, that number had grown to 700. They dont'care if it's a joke - they love that people are talking about breast cancer - the disease that will affect one out of every eight American women at some point in their lives.

Posted by: BrigidSchulte | January 8, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

So that's what that is! I would never have known. Certainly not an impressive outreach campaign.

Posted by: rawein_17 | January 8, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

well... obviously it worked because you're one of several news organizations that wrote and article about it today. And, you mention the cause of raising breast cancer awareness. So, I think it was pretty successful in getting the word out via a meme.

Posted by: ajanders | January 8, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Oy vey, does everybody have to take everything so seriously? IMHO posting the color of my bra in my facebook status was of no value in raising breast cancer awareness, but it did make me liar. Every time I've been in a situation where I had to divulge my bra color - wedding shower games come to mind - it has been the only day in 3 month's I've been wearing a boring white bra. So this time I posted "Leopard." By the way, I never got the "secret message" but by the 3rd color status I'd figured it out.

Posted by: kbockl | January 8, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I think all these bra color posters need to get back to work. As long as I can't see the color of your bra through your blouse, I really don't need and don't want to know anything about your underwear. BTW, underwear is a category that includes bras as well as tee shirts, slips, girdles, garter belts, and camisoles.

Posted by: padre1957 | January 8, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the writer...I was thinking panties every time I saw a new color...thinking wonderful thoughts in my head....

Posted by: 4thFloor | January 8, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I always participate in breast cancer awarenes activities. The message I got on my inbox was not only to put the color of my bra on the status but to "Do this for Breast Cancer Awareness and don't forget: FEEL YOUR BOOBIES!!!" so I checked them first and then put my bra color. I thought it was a great reminder!!!

Posted by: laslisas | January 8, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

As a breast cancer survivor who no longer can wear a bra, I had a different reaction. It wasn't silly. It was fun. But I couldn't participate ... because I no longer have breasts.

After thinking about it for a while and tweeting to my friends (I'm @whymommy), I wrote about it on my blog; I hope you'll take a minute and read about why this meme is not only silly, but potentially difficult for actual breast cancer survivors to see.

Posted by: toddlerplanet | January 8, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Was this viral campaign more successful than the typical email forward or Facebook-generated “Post-this-if-you-believe-in…” status petition? Infinitely.
Did the women who were told not to tell the boys” tell the boys anyway? Yes.
Did the boys find out, and do we think maybe the originator intended for “the boys” to find out? Yes.
Did some people actually move to action (suggesting self-breast exams, posting links to, or what have you? Yes.
Is that better than no action? Yes.

Women are strong, supportive, synergistic creatures. And if miles separate us, and an online social networking tool can connect us, even for a few seconds, in an effort to better our lives (and our children’s lives, and even the lives of “the boys” we do know are affected as well), then might it not be a good idea to share (or *gasp!* dare I say “make up”?) the color of a piece of underclothing in order to get people thinking about a disease we could all do without?


Posted by: MomOfTwoKids | January 8, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

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