South African men have been challenged to participate in a social media campaign to raise awareness about breast cancer.
A group of young men have started a #HeyBraChallenge, wherein they ask men to wear a bra and post a picture or video on social media to raise awareness about breast cancer.
The CANSA Association of South Africa estimates that over 19 – million women aged 15 years and older are at risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. This is the most common cancer affecting women in South Africa.
“Hey bra, we nominate you to do the hey bra challenge in support of breast cancer awareness month, because, we love you bra” – This is a video of group of six men, wearing pink bras doing the #HeyBraChallenge.
The movement started when the mother of one of the guys discovered very late, that she has breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer amongst South African women with 1 in 28 women at risk of developing this disease in their lifetime.
Sanele Vilakazi of the #HeyBraMovement says men seldom get involved in issues that affect women and they want to change that.
“People are shocked at why are men wearing bras? We also wanted to feel the challenge because funny enough when we were wearing bras, the straps, we understood what women go through hence when they get home they just want to take off the bra and relax. And the bra is there to support. Bad reaction because there’s always going to be the bad, people will want to misread it and say we are degrading the situation, we are making fun out of it but not really. We are just saying we understand your plight and we want to walk this journey with you.”
Vilakazi says the few minutes of wearing a bra was an eye opener for him and his friends. Now they are calling on more men to encourage women in their lives to get screened for breast cancer.
Bonolo Sebolai is also from the #HeyBraMovement. “How we measure success is by how many men are actively wanting to go take their mothers, their sisters, their daughters to go get screened who are actively encouraging that behaviour. We will know we are successful in the hey bra movement.”
According to CANSA – breast cancer is now also prevalent in men. It says a percent of South African men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. The Association encourages such initiatives since it’s new and different from previous campaigns.
CANSA’s Lucy Balona says they welcome hightened awareness about all kinds of cancers.
“It’s actually a good way for men to understand about breast cancer in particular in SA there’s a one percent chance of men getting breast cancer themselves. And it’s just a unique way, fun thing for guys, guys like to do fun things so if they are sharing information, I think for us if you do something, what’s important, use the opportunity to make sure that you are sharing info that’s relevant and it’s something new and if its getting guys out there to learn then nothing wrong with that.”
A social media expert says the success of such campaigns depends on whether they target and reach desired audiences, as well as whether they have an emotional or personal attachment to the idea.
The team from the #HeyBraChallenge will participate in the annual Ithemba Walkathon on Sunday which also raises awareness about breast cancer in SA.