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Do 'booby' bracelets fight breast cancer?

Is "boobies" a bad word? According to a Philadelphia court, not really.

It ruled Tuesday that tweens and teens can, indeed, wear breast-cancer awareness paraphernalia that proclaims that they love "boobies."

Brianna Hawk, 13, and Kayla Martinez, 12, got into trouble after wearing "I (heart) boobies" bracelets last fall. School officials banned them, saying that the slogan was "a lewd double entendre," according to Now, the order prohibits the district from "suspending, threatening to suspend, or otherwise punishing or disciplining the plaintiffs from wearing the bracelets," the site reports.

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"The bracelets are intended to be and they can reasonably be viewed as speech designed to raise awareness of breast cancer and to reduce the stigma associated with openly discussing breast health," U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin wrote in a 40-page memorandum, reports the site.

The bracelets were part of a cheeky breast-cancer campaign by a group called The Keep A Breast Foundation.

In Canada, a similar trend is underway, with the Booby Ball and a Sudbury charity that has also been using the I Heart Boobies slogan, selling casts of women's chests.

The groups have a number of vocal critics who say these campaigns' sexy bents are insulting and, furthermore, that a common theme in many of them - the promotion of breast self-exams - is misplaced. The tension between the sexy breast talk and the very real worry of mastectomy is another issue that gets raised.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter author Peggy Orenstein is one of them. She'd had breast cancer and is a keen observer of the wave of pink products and campaigns that purport to help the cause. She recently lambasted the Keep a Breast folks as well as a campaign called Feel Your Boobies.

Back in Philadelphia, the district's attorney, John E. Freund III, said he was disappointed by the ruling but had yet to confer with the school board about a possible appeal, reports

"It is inconceivable that the court did not recognize that the bracelets were meant to titillate," Mr. Freund said, noting that a porn actress had sought to associate herself with the bracelets and that truck stops were interested in selling them, according to the article.

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So, which is it? Is lightheartedly focusing on breasts themselves a good move for breast cancer charities? Or does it undermine the cause?

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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