Bra Color Status on Facebook Goes Viral

Breast cancer advocates like bra color status updates, but will it help them?

January 8, 2010, 1:16 PM

Jan. 8, 2010— -- "Black My Regular," was Anna Davison Smith's post yesterday on Facebook.

"Handbags, no?" commented her brother-in-law Ian Davison. "Put me out of my misery."

Olive White was at first baffled by all the colors being cited on Facebook by her women friends. "But I've got it now, good job."

A lot of Facebook users didn't get it. In the last 24 hours, women have randomly been posting the color of their bras on their status updates, bewildering their friends and titillating the men in their lives -- all to raise awareness for breast cancer research.

At noon today, "color status on Facebook" was number 11 on Google Trends and was making fast gains on Twitter.

Click here to visit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Web site.

No one seems to know its origin. Detroit Free Press is taking credit for its city in starting the phenomenon. BellyBeyond blog also suggests the Motor City.

White, a 43-year-old nanny who lives in New York City, is convinced the Facebook phenomenon started in Britain then quickly went viral in the United States.

"I saw my Irish and English friends post colors in the past few days and now the Yanks are at it," said White, who was born in Ireland.

"It's pretty funny that mostly black is coming up. Because of all the ice going on over in Ireland, I was thinking about the roads," she told referring to dangers of black ice. "Then when someone from Scotland wrote, 'pink,' I thought it was pink eye. Finally I asked what was with all the colors."

"I hope some sizes come up next," commented one of her male friends.

Another realist quipped, "I am still waiting for someone to be honest and say grey."

"Some of my posts are pretty embarrassing," said White. "It's madness. Some people are writing 'nude' and the guys are saying, 'Great, I'll come over.' Nude is a color of brown."

October is breast cancer awareness month, but organizations that support the cause say they are thrilled with the free publicity.

"We think it's terrific," said Andrea Rader, a spokesman for Susan G. Komen For the Cure, an organization that raises funds for breast cancer research. "It's a terrific example of how little things get started on the Internet and go a long way to raise cancer awareness."

Fun Way to Raise Awareness of Breast Cancer

"We hope that the impact of this kind of thing online is representative of how you can use grassroots efforts to educate and lead people to go to places like Komen and get educated. If we can raise funds along the way, even if we didn't start it, that's great."

The trend seemed to have started with a chain e-mail that asked women to forward it to all the female friends in their address book.

"Some fun is going on....just write the colour of your bra in your status..just the colour, nothing else, and send this on to ONLY girls no men... it will be neat to see if this will spread the wings of cancer awareness. It will be fun to see how long it takes before the men will wonder why all the girls have a color in their status...thanks ladies!"

Note that the word "colour" uses the British spelling.

Davison Smith, a 32-year-old police detective from Buckinghamshire, England, received her e-mail from a friend in Costa Rica.

"It came from my half brother's on-off partner in Costa Rica yesterday afternoon," she told "I don't know where she got it from. It has been causing a bit of a stir over here, and I've seen a lot of my male Facebook friends mentioning it on their pages."

Some women are now putting a number next to the color, according to Davison Smith. "I have no idea what the number means. Suggestions have been the age the women lost their virginity or the number of people they have slept with. I am none the wiser."

One provocative New Jersey post declared, "I'm not wearing one."

Another from a young mother from New Hampshire commented: "I was going to make some comment about post baby boobs."

For men, the color scheme was embarrassing.

"I saw lots of colors being posted and had no idea what it was about, so I wrote 'aquamarine' and got several comments before I found out," said one Nevada man. "I may have jeopardized my standing in the men's club."

Breast Cancer Awareness Can Lead to Breast Cancer Checkup

These online antics may be raising more attention for women's anatomy than for breast cancer research.

"I'd like to learn more about this," said Karen Young, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit, which educates women who are living with the disease or those recently diagnosed.

"The challenge is you are seeing certain cryptic messages and they are interesting, but I haven't seen it lead anywhere. I am really intrigued and think there is a possibility to bring it to the next level."

Breast cancer strikes 1 in 8 women in the United States. In 2008, an estimated 182,460 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 67,770 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer, according to

Though death rates have been decreasing since 1990, about 40,480 women a year succumb to the disease.

The Facebook trend has "done a really good job of creating buzz," according to Young. "But where do they send people?"

"I don't know who is behind it and I would love to know," she said. "That's part of what is intriguing. It appeared suddenly but there is no place to go. Maybe someone will come back for a follow up. Who knows?"

"We rely on donations," said Young. "We'd be thrilled."

But maybe not surprised, according to Justin Hare, a 27-year-old editor for a Philadelphia medical publishing company, who suspects the advocacy groups themselves launched what he called a "clever public relations campaign."

"I think there's a chance with these social networking sites there is an inherent ability not to be taken seriously," he told "But I feel like the way this is going, the foundation or whoever came up with this is just keeping up with the times. Generating interest goes a long way to generating awareness."

"Although no fund raising is involved in this campaign, it has been a landmark in viral marketing," according to All About Facebook, the "unofficial Facebook resource."

"The campaign has served as a fast, free and fun way for women to raise awareness about breast cancer and remind other women to get themselves examined," it said today.

To learn more about breast cancer or to make a donation go to or Susan G. Komen For the Cure.

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