In 2016, MACMA (Movimiento Ayuda Cancer de Mama, Argentina) launched a campaign to educate women (and men!) on the proper way to perform a breast self-examination, and encourage them to follow three simple steps to maintain good breast health and to detect breast cancer early.
Of the idea behind the campaign, Joaquin Cubria and Ignacio Ferioli (ECDs at David Argentina), said:
“It’s hard to get women over 25 to examine their breasts regularly to prevent breast cancer. But it isn’t hard to make them check their phones every five minutes. Therefore, we decided to get to them. That is when we bumped into another problem: breasts are not very welcome; they are censored. Even when teaching how to perform a BSE for the early detection of breast cancer. That is where ‘manboobs4boobs’ comes in.” (Jardine 2016)
The campaign not only calls out the double-standard in censorship rules on social media, but exploits it in a hilarious and memorable way, claiming #manboobs4boobs and prompting an influx of manboob video uploads.
Censorship in media is nothing new – particularly when it comes to the hypersexualization of women’s bodies, and breasts especially. “By starting a conversation with humor that attempts to normalize breasts, the Argentinean group hopes that women will be more likely to check their bodies for signs of breast cancer if breasts aren’t treated as such a taboo body part” (Macarow 2016).
The primary campaign passive-agressively (and cheerily!) attacks censorship with a few key phrases:
“Women’s boobs, especially their nipples, are censored in certain social networks even when showing how to perform breast self examination to detect early breast cancer.
But we found boobs that aren’t censored – Henry’s. HELLO.
“And that goes for you, too, Henry. Men can also contract breast cancer. Thank goodness that doesn’t go for censorship!”
The campaign’s overt expression of discontent with the status quo and subversion of the norms, techniques and executions of Modernism is firmly rooted in the Postmodernist movement of the late 20th century. “Postmodernism played on historical associations as stylistic references, reconfiguring political meaning in the process” (Drucker and McVarish 2013, 289).
Postmodernist designers had a particular interest in signs and simulacra, and how they functioned in the new landscape of identity politics and social systems. While the instructional video itself mimics the standard of medical instrutional videos – dry, humorless and totally objective – the voiceover script pokes fun at the experience, turning what could be an awkward, uncomfortable video into a memorable and humorous educational experience.
The video also makes use of signs – the Facebook and Instagram logos – to directly call out the platforms in violation of censoring healthcare messages. Though the voiceover does not directly reference Facebook and Instagram, and the logos are only visible for a short time, it’s an effective visual device in supporting the overall commentary.
This is definitely not your standard PSA.
Drucker, Johanna and Emily McVarish. “Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide.” New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 2009.
Jardine, Alexandra. “These ‘Man Boobs’ Provide a Useful Breast Self-Exam Demo.” Ad Age, 22 Apr. 2016, adage.com/creativity/work/boobs4boobs/46621.
Macarow, Aron. “This Brilliant Campaign Just Revealed How Nipple Censorship Is More Dangerous Than We Thought.” ATTN, ATTN: 24 Apr. 2016, archive.attn.com/stories/7704/manboobs4boobs-nails-serious-problem-breast-censorship-social-media.
Peña, Casal. “MACMA – Man Boobs 4 Boobs (CASE STUDY).” Vimeo, 4 Feb. 2020, vimeo.com/165948842.
Vaughn, Emily. “7 Women’s Health Topics We Need To Talk About In 2020.” NPR, NPR, 2 Jan. 2020, www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/01/02/793027826/7-womens-health-topics-we-need-to-talk-about-in-2020.