I heart Boobies! Drawing on the the same psychological principles that induced you to read this blog, teens in schools across America are bringing awareness to themselves, their choice of accessories, and to breast cancer by sporting "I Heart Boobies" bracelets in school. The results of their efforts have undoubtedly caught the attention of their school administrators.

Merging the successful marketing campaigns of "Save the Ta-Tas" and Lance Armstrong's "Live Strong" yellow bracelets, the Keep Abreast Foundation has cleverly devised a marketing campaign selling "I Heart Boobies" bracelets with teen audiences in mind. The California based company purports that their mission is to raise awareness to breast cancer with the proceeds donated to fund breast cancer research and educational programs. An estimated 2 million bracelets have already been sold in the United States. For only $4, teens are buying these bracelets and wearing them to school. How do schools feel about this fashion trend?

Many schools are against this teen craze citing that the language is inappropriate and is distracting in an educational environment. Some schools feel that these bracelets are a direct violation of school dress codes, which prohibit sexually suggestive phrases on clothing or accessories. Other school officials feel that the language devalues breast cancer patients' experiences by reducing their stories to only parts of their anatomy. As a result, administrators from California, Florida, Idaho, Colorado, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and many other states have banned boobie bangles in their school or make students wear the bracelets inside out.

Teens generally take the opposite point of view suggesting that bracelet visibility brings awareness to breast cancer. Some students wear the bracelets to commemorate a loved one who has passed away from the terrible disease, while other students report that they wear the bracelets to help celebrate breast cancer survivors. Still other teens tout that it is their constitutional right to wear what they want to school.

Are students using Keep Abreast' s marketing campaign as a means to bring awareness to breast cancer and to celebrate breast cancer survivors? Or, are teens basking in the frenzy of attention that the campaign has already generated and enjoying the adrenalin rush caused by rebelling against school policies governing dress codes- all in the name of breast cancer awareness?

According to a study conducted by I-Ling Ling (2008), the researcher investigated how self-confidence and susceptibility to peer influence affected adolescents' adoption of uniqueness-seeking behaviors in terms of their choice of clothing. The results indicated that high uniqueness-seeking teens want to wear unusual things and they may even believe that their peers want to wear the same unusual things. But, Ling found that high uniqueness-seeking teens may actually wear the novel fashion items as a result of thinking that other teens like the novel items but do not have the guts to actually wear the apparel. Ling also found that students who indicated that conformity was integral to their self-concepts were more apt to adopt to popular fashion trends when compared to individuals who reported low levels of conformity.

Therefore it is possible that a small group of teens began wearing the boobie bracelet in schools because they either didn't think that others would have ‘the guts' to wear the bracelets or because they wanted to bring awareness to breast cancer. The attention caused by the bracelets enticed even more uniqueness-seeking teens and breast cancer activists to purchase the bracelets. Once the bracelets became popular within school hallways, teens that tend to conform to the latest fashion trends also purchased the bracelets.

The results? A chain reaction fueled by activists, teens who like to push school boundaries, adolescents who prefer novel apparel, and those who just like to be in the majority has swept the nation bringing awareness to breast cancer and leaving some frustrated administrators in its quake.

References Cited:
Ling, I. (2008). Counterconformity: An attribution model of adolescents' uniqueness-seeking behaviors in dressing. Adolescence, 43(172), 881-893.

Copyright Ann L. Naragon, Ph.D. 2010

About the Author

Ann Naragon, Ph.D.

Ann Naragon, Ph.D., received her degree in educational psychology and specializes in adolescent development, relational aggression, and achievement motivation.

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