One out of every eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Over 40,000 will die from the disease this year alone. It’s impossible not to be overwhelmed by sheer gravity of these statistics. What’s even more staggering is 90-95 percent of all cases aren’t a genetic predisposition but are rather influenced by environmental factors, and therefore potentially avoidable.
In spite of all the available information, breast health is still an anomaly for many. This is especially true of younger demographics who think of themselves as far removed from the risks of breast cancer. One organization, with a catchy slogan and edgy style, is looking to change that.
Out of the Fray and In the Know
On the whole you wouldn’t expect a conversation about breast cancer prevention to be controversial and yet the Keep A Breast Foundation (KAB) has had their share of tabloid headlines and outrage. Still, since their launch in the spring of 2000, they’ve grown from a progressive art event to global force, becoming one of the most recognized prevention organizations for the cause, with one key difference – their target audience is still in high school.
When a close friend in her twenties was diagnosed, KAB Founder Shaney Jo Darden knew she had to be involved in spreading awareness. All of the more established organizations were very clearly geared to older women and didn’t resonate with the young, vibrant communities they belonged to. So, Darden set out to fill the void.
Her dedication to educating and empowering young people steered the foundation in a different direction. Darden wanted to be a hot topic on the lips of 13-20 year olds, who simply didn’t identify with parades of pink and organized walks. She also felt it was critical to evolve the conversation about breast health and place greater emphasis on prevention, not solely awareness.
It’s Boobies, Not Breasts
Tapping into her network in the action sports and art communities, the KAB held their first fundraiser. Guests were treated to a fashion show and art exhibit. Breast casts of cancer patients, affectionately named "Treasure Chests", were on display, transformed into striking art pieces celebrating their strength and struggle. It was a success!
Following the fundraiser Darden and the KAB started expanding their ground game, exhibiting at concerts, festivals and sporting events. Attendees were invited to have a candid conversation about breast health and given leaflets of information. The icing on the cake were some swaggy, flexible bracelets donning the foundation’s slogan “I (heart) Boobies”. The colorful accessories were a talking point and instant hit.
Teenagers began voicing support for the cause. Before long the bracelets started showing up on middle and high school campuses across U.S., only to be met with contention by multiple school officials. Districts began banning them, saying the messaging was suggestive in nature. Students would protest, feeling the intent had been grossly misunderstood and their freedom unjustly restricted. One such case even appeared before the Supreme Court only to be ruled in favor of the students and ultimately KAB.
Now, sixteen years, one TED Talk, a little controversy, thousand students, and countless of events later, the Keep A Breast foundation continues to thrive. They have never wavered in their commitment to mobilize youths and stop breast cancer at its door. With branches internationally and a growing number of brand and celebrity partnerships, they’ll keep pushing forward to change the landscape of breast health education, all the while inviting everyone to profess their love of “boobies.”
Products To Dye For
Only 5-10 percent of all breast cancer cases can be tied to family history. Environmental factors, such as the ingredients found in daily-use products, can disrupt the natural development, growth and lifecycle of hormones, which can lead to cancer. The average woman absorbs five pounds of toxic chemicals each year just from her beauty products. Since you absorb some of the chemicals in hair dyes, shampoos, and lotions it’s important to choose wisely and avoid products with potentially hazardous ingredients. A comprehensive list of toxic ingredients found in food, home and lifestyle products, as well as safe alternatives are available on www.nontoxicrevolution.org. Below are some common culprits found in hair care.
P AND O AMINOPHENOL is found in hair colorants and linked to cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity and organ toxicity.
DMDM HYDANTOIN is a preservative found in shampoos, conditioners, body washes, styling gels, moisturizers and more. It can cause immunotoxicity and organ toxicity. It can also be contaminated by formaldehyde.
METHYLPARABEN is found in hair dyes and known to have endocrine-disrupting effects which can lead to weight gain and a host of other diseases.
RESORCINOL is found in hair colorants and bleaches, acne treatments, shampoos, anti-itch and rash cream, facial cleansers, toners and more. It is linked to cancer, immune toxicity, endocrine disruption and organ toxicity.
P AND M PHENYLENEDIAMINE is commonly found in hair colorants that are linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and organ toxicity.
DIETHANOLAMINE (DEA) can lead to birth defects and is known to disrupt hormones.
DIOXANE is found in body lotions, hair relaxers, dyes, bleaches, baby soaps, hormonal creams, and products that make suds. It’s known to have cancer causing impurities.
The Keep A Breast Foundation is a nonprofit organization with a mission to empower young people around the world with breast health education and support. For more information about projects and fundraising efforts, please visit keep-a-breast.org.
PR maven, beauty editor and naturalista Kimberly Smith is a busy mom with an ULTA addiction, who cherishes family time, music on vinyl and mascara.