The Breast Cancer Meme Dilemma

Jennifer R. Scott │August 22, 2021

Ah, the infamous breast cancer awareness memes… No matter what social media network you are on, chances are, you see some version of this form of cyberactivism every October, during breast cancer awareness month. Some of these memes are meant to be funny.

Some refer to the steady commercialization of breast cancer awareness in the Western world.

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Others are used to build a sense of hope for those who are fighting the disease.

Still, others seem to point out that there is more to finding a cure for breast cancer than just being aware of its existence.

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The book, Strategic Social Media: From Marketing to Social Change, provides a case study dedicated the breast cancer meme. This study discusses the issues related to breast cancer awareness activism, specifically, the fact that many forms of cyberactivism do little for finding a cure or building an active social network, as many campaigns lack any “real-life mobilization” tactics. Another noteworthy issue is oversexualization of the cause, as seen in this meme:

Image found at: 🅱️ 25+ Best Memes About Breast Cancer Exam | Breast Cancer Exam Memes (

There has been a lot of push back from breast cancer activists who believe the disease should be taken much more seriously, because making fun of breast cancer is not so funny. Also, to add insult to injury, a Facebook meme fanpage displayed the following message:

Whether you are a full-fledged Breast cancer supporter or a shameless, sexually-charged horndog, this is the page for you.’

One of the biggest complaints is that, although many breast cancer memes are meant to get social media users to participate in the cause, they do not actually provide any real solutions for advocacy, getting people to volunteer, or getting them to make donations to organizations like The Susan B. Komen Foundation and The American Cancer Society. Further, while sharing a breast cancer awareness meme may make us feel validated once a year, and while the aforementioned organizations may see an increase in activity, i.e., donations, “it is difficult to link the cause of the donations.”

The process of determining what is good or what is bad can vary from person to person, organization to organization, and social media platform to social media platform. For this reason, it is important to find ways for everyone to contribute to this cause. Although I do not personally agree with the oversexualization process, some social media users may not have a problem with this occurrence. So, perhaps, the best solution is to find a way for all of these memes to make a difference. For instance, instead of just making a meme shareable, why not add a link that leads users to a page where they can make a donation, volunteer, or receive more information on ways to help? As the old saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat. In this case, there is more than one way to spread the word about breast cancer.

No matter what your opinion is in this matter, I leave you with this…

Any thoughts?

#snhusmm #digitalmarketing #breastcancermeme #ProjectIdeaEvolution


Strategic Social Media: From Marketing to Social Change

The Susan B. Komen Foundation

The American Cancer Society


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