best youth ministry blog post of the week

my friend brian berry rants — GOES OFF, really — on ‘i love boobies’ bracelets. fantastic.

a snippet:


I hate them.

I’ve pulled them off 10 year-old boys on my soccer teams, called out guys in our high school program for wearing them, and questioned girls who walk proudly with them on- the latest of which was earlier today.

To mock them, I even bought,, and Yep, I own them all… cuz I was seriously thinking of starting my own stupid trend to mock the current one. I was gonna make bracelets and t-shirts with a giant silverback gorilla and his big boobies and raise money for prostate cancer or maybe diabetes or something. I just hate them so much that I don’t want to risk losing money fighting them with my satire, so I’m a chicken of an entrepreneur and haven’t done anything with my url buying spree yet.

read the rest. i was laughing out loud, and completely agreeing. can’t stand those stupid things, and find it hard to believe that anyone ever thought they were a good idea to create in the first place.

14 thoughts on “best youth ministry blog post of the week”

  1. Sorry, as I’ve already commented on his blog I think he totally blew this one.
    He’s making his dislike of them the center of the issue rather than taking the chance to use them as a launching point to teach a lesson. Maybe that 10 year old has a family member who is a cancer survivor and the family has chosen to wear those bracelets. “To mock them” is a theologically unsupportable starting place for Christian ministry.

    Once again the church gets to play the humorless, judgmental and IMO arrogant fool. Not a model I’d choose to laud.



  2. I am a breast cancer survivor…and I don’t care for this stuff either. It comes back to women being defined by their appearance, and breasts being a focal point. Promote breast cancer awareness? Seriously? I feel like the cause is beeing used to justify some need to refer to our bodies sexually. And how many of our young ladies posted “I like it on the ______”? Sure it was their purses, but what was the implication? Sorry, this woman is offended and grateful i’m not alone!

  3. well, i have to disagree with you on this one, jay — on multiple fronts.

    let’s start with your last paragraph. this is NOT about being puritanical or humorless. (actually, case in point, brian’s post is hilarious at several points.) and, while i’d like to think that my resistance is theologically informed, i think i would hold the same opinion if i weren’t a christian. that comment of yours kinda chapped me, because – while christians often ARE humorless and judgmental — it’s a completely unfair accusation in this situation.

    but the much larger issue is that the opposition (mine, and i think brian’s, and others i’ve spoken with and seen comment on this) is that the bracelets completely misdirect the whole movement. the fact that the NFL wore pink in honor of breast cancer awareness shows how far this issue — historically only considered a “women’s issue” — has come. but in this case, the medicine (the bracelets) are damaging, not helping. the bracelets, as i’ve seen them worn (again, mostly by teenage guys) are 100% about objectifying females. maybe that wasn’t the original intent of whoever first made them (though they’d have to be completely ignorant to not assume the way these would play out), but i have yet to meet a guy wearing one who actually gives a rip about the very cause they’re, in theory, supporting. instead, it’s an excuse to have the word “boobies” on their wrists; an excuse to focus, once again, on judging women of all ages based on breast size.

    i see no value in them whatsoever. in fact, just the opposite — i think they’re destructive (both to the cause they’re supposed to be supporting, and to humans in general).

    and, while i would think every bit of that were i a christian or not, this IS anchored, for me, in my understanding of creation and god’s creation-dreams for us.

  4. And in large part I agree with you Marko. I don’t think these are the most effective way of approaching the topic but there are folks out there, both in and out of the faith community, who do.

    And what will they see in this reaction? You see humor. I didn’t see any in particular but that’s a matter of personal taste. What I do see is a “Christian” response that uses terms like “mock them”. I fail to see the theological basis for that. Jesus spends a lot more time slapping around folks who like to point the finger than those who are being pointed at. I don’t think we live up to that standard here.

    You’ve never seen one worn by anyone who actually meant it. Therefore they don’t exist. That’s weak logic at best and I think you know it. I have a fair number of female adult friends who wear this phrase in one form or another. It’s intended to be outrageous, by doing so it forces us to confront both issues.

    That you find this campaign to be at variance with God’s creation-dream for us (great phrase!) isn’t the issue. It’s how we react to it that is for me. And again, we chose a way that the world will see as grim and judgmental.

    And that advances the Gospel message how?

  5. Patti mentions the “I like it…” fad on facebook. I knew it was about purses, but when a middle school girl from our youth group posted, “I like it in the closet” and lots of guys posted that they’d be willing to join her there, I didn’t get the sense that Breast Cancer awareness was their focus…

  6. Jay, if you saw a girl wearing a shirt that said “boobies” and had to arrows pointing to her actual breasts, I don’t think you would hesitate to make a judgement about the inappropriateness of her attire, and if she was your student, to ask her to put on a jacket. If that’s completely inappropriate and not wearing anything highlighting boobies is completely non-controversial, then these bracelets logically fall somewhere in the middle. There is absolutely no doubt that it’s a fine line in ministry between judging and holding people accountable, but who better to determine the intentions of a youth pastor’s particular kids than said youth pastor?

  7. jay — we’ll just have to agree that you’re wrong. ha! did you see that? that was a funny little turn of words. man, us christians are so stinkin’ funny!

  8. When the “I like it on…” campaign (allegedly for cancer) started last month, I posted a note on our church FB page encouraging Christians to simply think and pray before they took part. So many of the posts that followed such phrases like ‘I like it on the kitchen floor’ and ‘I like it hanging up on the wall’ had less to do with a purse and more to do with sexual innuendo.

    Ironically, some of the Christians who replied to that post were more concerned with their “right to be sassy” versus considering the way words create worlds.

    There’s a big difference between having humor for a good cause versus creating a conversation that is hardwired for distraction.

  9. Christopher,
    You’re right they fall somewhere in the middle. And you’re right that I would (and have) discuss appropriate attire with members of my youth group. My difficulty in this whole conversation has always been with HOW we enter into that discussion not only with our own youth but with the larger culture. The original post talks about “pulling them off 10 year old boys” and using websites “to mock them”. What does that accomplish other than to cast us, yet again, in the role of grim moralists?

    Again why not use this as an opportunity to talk about the issues? Open their eyes to underlying assumptions and understand what’s really going on? Shouldn’t the goal be to lead our young people to a place where they make their own decisions based on solid teaching?

    Or is it to impose a point of view? That’s not an understanding of the Gospel that I’m neither familiar nor comfortable with. And that’s what I see in the original post. All of my comments concern the original post or are general comments about the historic actions of the church universal.

    There’s actually a solid marketing concept behind the campaign. It may not be a successful method of fulfilling that concept but this campaign says exactly what it says for a specific reason. We need to be able to deal with that too.

    I see a knee jerk “Let us condemn them” mentality in the original post instead of what I’d prefer to see – “Let us reason together”.

    But apparently I’m wrong.


  10. Jay,

    The 10 year old boy I pulled them off of was at a game where he was not allowed to wear it on the field. I did talk to him and no, his mom or grandma do not have breast cancer. He has not hit puberty, nor have any of his peers on the team. Their principal takes them from them at school for being inappropriate. I think allowing him to believe that what he should learn at a young age about women is that he should love their boobies does not prepare him for a God-honoring adult life. To ignore it, would be far worse than address it in my opinion.

    I don’t cut them off students. I don’t rip them off them. I do talk to them about them. I believe my words were “call out” for the boys and “question” for the girls. One girl in my ministry wore one when we were going to work with the homeless. I explained to her that unless she wanted homeless men talking to her about her boobies while she gave them a sandwich, she should put it away… because they are not interested in fighting breast cancer, but they are hungry. She agreed and did so. I also talked with her that I thought it was degrading to her and others. I don’t have a bouncer a the door of youth group saying, “you can’t come in here with that”… though I’m not sure that is good. I really think I need to call both men and women to a higher ground.

    As far as as “let’s reason together”… The last convo I had with a girl about it was a girl who is openly gay. I still told her that I thought she should value her image and the identity of other women around her more than to wear that bracelet. I told her why I could not and why I thought it was incongruent with being a follower of Jesus who held to a “in God’s image” view of creation. When we left, she was still wearing it. Next time we meet, it will likely still be on her arm. I don’t want to teach students what to think, but rather how to think. My post did what I intended… not end a conversation, but flip a rock over to start one. What has been casually ignored and not discussed must be wrestled with. I don’t think the average teen even thought at all about any of this before buying them. In the end, I think these bracelets were intended to be a play on words to raise money and get teens to buy them and they marketed them strategically to that audience in malls they frequent. And…. they still send the absolute wrong message and I will not defend them.

    The mocking… was of a product line- I used it in terms of buying url’s that would be satire on a product and it’s message, not on the premise of fighting disease. And yes, I think Jesus mocked the pharisees and the old testament has numerous examples of mocking sin. And in my context, the wrist they are on is of a “bible believing student” most of the time. I’m saying the value of the funds these bracelets are wearing are not worth the cost.

    The attempt to not condemn cannot be at the price of remaining silent to that which is not right.


  11. Brian,
    Thanks for the response. I would gladly have had the conversation over at your place but this is where it blew up on (and all over) me.

    I would like to remind everyone, again, that I have said I have reservations about the campaign. Not as many as some here but I understand that they might rub people the wrong way. My concerns were with what I read (and that Marko applauded) on the original post.

    The story looks different when more details are filled in but I had only the original to react to. I would respectfully ask that words not be put in my mouth. I’ve been very careful to quote people directly. I never claimed you cut or ripped them off and in fact I don’t see any language that even implies such a thing. You would seem to make a charge that I have chosen silence on the issues raised in an attempt “…not to condemn…” . I would ask you to go back and re-read my comments. I clearly have spoken to the need to speak and not to remain silent. You may certainly take exception to how I choose to speak on the issue. An accusation that I remain silent is false.

    The bracelets are the product of the Keep A Breast Foundation, a charity aimed at educating young people especially on issues around breast cancer. I would encourage everyone to read a little about the origins of the campaign before they make up their mind. It is provocative, intentionally so. The choice of the word “boobies” was intentional and they explain that choice as well. So whether you like them or not they ARE about breast cancer. It is quite certain that a lot of young folk wearing them aren’t doing it for that reason. That’s the snicker factor I mention elsewhere. But that doesn’t change the fact that they ARE about breast cancer. The organization has been around doing their educational work for a decade. Young people wear a lot of things for a lot of reasons. Shall we discuss how many people wear crosses?

    Your advice to the girl working at the soup kitchen was excellent. It got her thinking about the issues and how they relate to her in real life. That’s what I wish you had played up in your post. Or even mentioned. Instead we get words like hate and mock (more on that in a second) and stupid. I’ve made my living with words for 3 decades. The words you used resulted in my response. I’m not some non-believer and I still came away with the impression that I did. Words matter.

    Jesus “mocked” people in the religious world whose actions mocked their pious statements. He did not mock those in the broken world who wandered off the path of righteousness. No matter how strongly anyone may feel about the campaign the folks behind the boobies campaign must fall into the second category not the first. Your students would fall into the same category. It’s convenient to say you’re only mocking the product but the product represents people and their organization. I still contend that mockery is not correct Christian response to this issue. By definition:
    “Derision, ridicule” “insulting or contemptuous action or speech”. Those are not concepts I use, would ever use, or allow anyone to use in the ministries over which I have oversight. In fact I spend plenty of time trying to get young people to NOT use those techniques.

    I believe that for the church the value of that “ministry” is not worth the cost.


  12. First I would like the author of this blog to answer me what in the world gives him the right to pull anything off any child? I believe that is up to his/her parents! Secondly, these bands are sold in legitimate campaigns to raise awareness regarding breast cancer. Does the author also take issue with Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s upcoming campaign to raise awareness of testicular cancer called “checkyonutz”. I am very proud to say I have a cancer survivor amongst my family. I don’t think anything that raises funds or awareness regarding cancer should be mocked in anyway. To those that are as feeble minded to think that the fight against breast cancer inappropriately draws issue with the size of a woman’s breast size has completely and utterly missed the point!

  13. Hmm . . . consider me old-fashioned, but am I the only one who detests the word “boobie?” Calling breasts ‘breasts’ would be a step in the right direction, imo.

    Obviously the campaign that started this didn’t think it through very well to the logical conclusion that, OF COURSE, pre-pubescent and adolescent boys would LOVE these, and not as a means to fight breast cancer.

Leave a Reply