One of the critiques of pink ribbon culture is that in its desire to spread awareness of breast cancer prevention and detection, it often does so by attaching itself to the sexualization of women’s breasts in order to spread the message.  It’s effective and kind of fun.  You know there’s Save the Ta-Tas, and Feel Your Boobies, etc.

Then I got to thinking (never a good sign): not all slang is equal.  There are some places where the ribbon culture just won’t go because it’s not acceptable.  The first thing was to find a list of breast slang.  And, thank you interwebs, I found a pretty impressive one: 138 Slang Words for Breasts.  I love this stuff–makes me laugh out loud every time.  Take this random list of twenty:

Abbott and Costello
Bert and Ernie
Rib Bumpers
Thelma and Louise
Tits / Titties

So if we continue along the Save the Ta-Tas and Feel your Boobies line, how about these offerings?

  • “Heard from Nancy yesterday.  Yeah, she’s got hooter cancer.”
  • “I’m walking for the cure for Blanche; she lost her battler with tit cancer.”
  • “I know, it’s heartbreaking that Louise is in hospice on account of her Stage IV badoinkies cancer.”

Well, why is it okay for boobies and ta-tas, but not really okay for hooters?  I’m not saying I have the answer to this, just throwing it out there for discussion.

Same thing with Vagina.  There is a Facebook group called One Million Vaginas.  The goal: stoke up awareness and take the vagina back from the politicians.  Their twitter feed is OneMillionVajj–because at some point in time when I wasn’t looking folks started calling the vagina the Va-jj.  Well, whatever.  Since this is part of the mainstream lexicon now, I can see a campaign for Save the Va-jj.  But how about these?

  • Beaver Cancer
  • Piss Flaps Carcinoma
  • Cancer of the Bearded Clam

Not feeling it, eh?

Breasts are caught between two extremes of social unacceptability.  On the one hand, no one wants to look at the breast with a hair sticking out of the areola, or the one that’s given in to the demands of gravity.  (Ew, that’s ugly.)   Then, on the other hand, no one is permitted to see the perky hot breasts of a young woman with hard nipples.  (Ew, that’s evil.)  Somewhere between ugly and evil lies this little heavenly pink spot of cute and fun that we embrace with open arms.  We can feel our boobies, and save our tas-tas, and honor our breasts.  But tits, fun bags, and nips are off limits.

It’s one of the reasons I think the new breast cancer awareness PSA that’s just come out of Scotland is so important.  Here is a real woman holding before her pictures of real breasts that have cancer, and every time I see it previewed somewhere there is a disclaimer about offensive imagery.  I mean, when did mature jugs become offensive?  Is the imagery offensive because they’re mature-everyday-woman tits or because they might be mistaken for porn-star-fuck-me tits?  These are tits that have breast cancer.  Unless you’re saying that cancer is offensive, then I don’t get it.  When did showing tits that have signs of cancer to which real woman can relate become offensive?

When I first had that weird thing happening to my boob, I didn’t know what it was.  It seemed a little out of kilter and then, over time, more out of kilter.  But it didn’t look like the illustrations in all of the pamphlets I read.  You know the cut-away B-cup boob that has perfect and uniformly shaped milk ducts and pretty veins and beautifully sculpted fat tissue?  Dimpling?  What was that?  Oh, that must mean the inverted nipple thing.  I don’t have that.

And when I’d lift up my D-cup pendulous boob to investigate, it was smooth like a baby’s butt–like it always was.  I didn’t feel anything.  Oh well, guess my breasts are changing with age.  It doesn’t look anything like those perfect medical illustrations.  When I finally felt a little something I waited, still thinking it wasn’t anything.  Dumb, but then I called the doctor.

Oh no, it was dimpling, all right.  And I only saw it when my GYN lifted up my boob and specifically showed me what was different.  And then she got a mirror and showed me the underside of my boob as it rested with my arm raised.  OMG!  I MISSED THAT?  This puckering wrinkled area that was being pulled to a distinct center like matter being sucked into a black hole?  I didn’t see because I couldn’t really feel it; and when the boob was picked up and the skin stretched this puckering was nowhere to be seen.


Scary shit, eh?  And why am I showing a heavily edited picture of the underside of my cha-cha?  Because real Volvos are considered offensive, fake Wilsons are idolized, and I think it’s more important to show this wrinkled pink underside of poor Thelma than it is to show a skillfully constructed medical illustration or, for that matter, a perfectly ironed pink ribbon.

Feel your rib bumpers. And if you have big knockers, not a bad idea to put a mirror under the torpedoes to see what they look like in their natural state.  It might save your life.  It might save your chesticles. Tell your buds.


This entry was posted in Advocacy, Breast Cancer PSAs, My Stage IV Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Euphemisms

  1. The Accidental Amazon says:

    How did I miss this?? Brilliant. And that PSA is wonderful. And real. Leave it to the Scots. So proud of my Cunningham heritage. 🙂

    ‘Bert and Ernie’??? Really? LOL

  2. Susan says:

    Absolutely brilliant and funny! Some of your words for breasts and describing them with cancer is hysterical. I love the way you can take a serious topic and still see the funny side. I’m feeling the love too! Thank you!

  3. Way to go Scorchy!! Can you see this PSA running in the air-brushed /Photoshopped US of A???

  4. Crystal says:

    Best PSA I’ve seen since ” this is your brain on drugs” (with the frying egg)

  5. anomar13 says:

    Great, as usual. Just a note that is not related to today’s blog. You mentioned 15% survival for Stage IV, which is correct. However, just a small note that may put you on speaking terms with your lymph nodes again. There is a new study, being conducted out of Germany, that is considering the fact that when there is no obvious lymph node involvement, they might actually be doing their job better. In other words, they are not allowing the cancer cells to create a tumor in the nodes. The prognosis for metastasis, without node involvement, is already slightly better that with node involvement, and this may be the reason. So, keep up your rest, help your immune system in any way you can, your nodes might be fighting the good fight:)

  6. Michael J. Miller says:

    Excellent entry, Susan. You’re rockin’!

  7. Matt says:

    this is a great, classic scorchy segue–from breast slang to the important question of how to discuss, and depict breast cancer in public. of course–the extremes of unacceptability include not only “sexy” breasts and “ugly” breasts, but also cancerous ones. hence more euphamistic pictures… thanks for sharing the pic of one physical sign–the dimpling. i have never seen a picture of that before.

  8. Hello,
    Just letting you know that I’ve nominated you for One Lovely Blogger Award.
    Check it out at

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