October 12, 2009

Deadline nears to enter annual ‘Be My Bra’ contest

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The annual “Be My Bra” contest at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Oct. 28 is all about raising awareness and taking a stand against breast cancer. Creativity and unbridled imagination are the order of the day as contestants design one-of-a-kind brassieres with a message.

“I love the awareness this raises and the ability to use a concept that’s thought-provoking,” said Jennifer Badiu, director of cancer care services for Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH). SIH is joining with SIUC’S Student Health Center and Student Development as co-sponsors of the competition.

The American Cancer Society’s estimates that in 2009 there will be 194,280 new cases of breast cancer and 40,610 deaths across the country.

Badiu said that in addition to encouraging people to be aware of this serious health issue and involved in the fight against cancer, an important component of this event is emphasizing accountability.

“It’s very easy to forget to take care of yourself,” she said. “When you see how what happens to one person affects and matters to other people, it really brings a sense of accountability into this. Cancer doesn’t just happen to one person, it affects everyone around them.”

The only contest requirement is that all bras be in good taste, suitable for family viewing. That’s because SIH will be displaying the entries at various breast cancer events and screening centers throughout the region in the coming year.

Contestants will also submit a short summary paragraph for the competition, telling how their bra design speaks to the event theme “Unite to Fight!” Information tables will give details about cancer risks and prevention, screening and various other important health matters. You can find out about the new “Buddy Check 9” program and even pick up a starter kit there. The program involves simply picking a “buddy” and encouraging one another to do self-exams. Those who sign up get a monthly reminder on the ninth day of each month and the starter kit is filled with valuable helps, said Badiu.

One big goal of the “Be My Bra” event is to increase awareness about the importance of monthly breast self-exams as a critical component of early detection among women, even of college age, according to Christy Hamilton, coordinator of sexual health, relationship violence and sexual assault programs for the Student Health Center-Wellness Center.

The inaugural competition in 2007 brought entries from about eight SIUC Pan-Hellenic groups involving many students. Competition organizers expanded it the following year, opening it to all of the University’s approximately 450 Registered Student Organizations as well as other groups of SIUC students or staff. The result was a dozen impressive entries and a big turnout. Again in 2009, all students and staff are welcome to participate.

The pre-registration deadline is Thursday, Oct. 15. Participants must send their name and/or the name of their organization along with a contact telephone number and e-mail address to Valerie Baker via fax at 618/529-0568 or by e-mail at Valerie.baker@sih.net. For more information, you can also e-mail Baker or call her at 618/453-5200, ext. 67128.

The actual “Be My Bra” contest is at 5 p.m., Oct. 28, in the Student Health Center Auditorium. Participants must check in that day at 4 p.m. The public is welcome to come see the thought-provoking apparel and support the message. Prizes will go to the top bra designs.

“We are very excited about this collaborative effort. SIH and the University are the two largest organizations in the region. Every opportunity we can take to work together to spread this important message is great. We have power in numbers. We can really make a difference,” Badiu said.