WSU hosts bra decorating event for breast cancer awareness

Oct 9 2013 - 1:54pm

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Hannah Shoelo, 19, Ogden, decorates a bra during Bra-ha-ha, a breast cancer awareness event, Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG/Standard-Examiner)
Weber State students Janessa Richardson, Anne Olsen, Hannah Shoelo and Elisa Saavedra (left to right) modeled the whimsical bras they created Tuesday for Bra-ha-ha, a WSU Women’s Center event intended to draw awareness to breast cancer. 10/08/13 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG/Standard-Examiner)
Hannah Shoelo, 19, Ogden, decorates a bra during Bra-ha-ha, a breast cancer awareness event, Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG/Standard-Examiner)
Weber State students Janessa Richardson, Anne Olsen, Hannah Shoelo and Elisa Saavedra (left to right) modeled the whimsical bras they created Tuesday for Bra-ha-ha, a WSU Women’s Center event intended to draw awareness to breast cancer. 10/08/13 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG/Standard-Examiner)

OGDEN -- Devon Hoxer painted on a watercolor scene, and glued real twigs and pebbles to a support bra that would have made Mother Nature proud.

"It seemed appropriate, to decorate a bra to show mother earth," said Hoxer, 22 and a Weber State English major. "A bra is an appropriate symbol of womanhood."

Janessa Richardson, 22 and a WSU math education/theater arts major, chose a red polka dot bra, and took a logical/artistic approach.

"I'm working on the Weber State show 'The Plain Princess' right now (www.weberstatetickets.com), and the characters make a lot of muffins," she said, while hot-gluing on a gold garland around the fake cupcakes she had securely affixed to her crafty lingerie project. "Plus, I saw the cupcakes, and it looked like it would be fun."

Carol Merrill, WSU Women's Center executive, organized the "Bra-ha-ha" event, intended to draw attention to breast cancer and to increase awareness of self-examination techniques. On Tuesday, Merrill stocked the Lair, a glass-walled room in the Shepherd Union Building, with clean, used bras, hot glue guns, and a remarkably wide variety of craft supplies.

Elisa Saavedra, 18, of Ogden, used decorative duct tape and ribbon printed with the word "princess" on the edges of her bra. She attached two working pinwheels for the front. Hilary Hislop, 26, of Layton, took a break from her WSU social work studies to wind a plush toy snake around the cups of her craft bra.

"Breast cancer runs in my family," Hislop said. "I think it's important to be aware of it, and this is a pretty fun way to raise awareness. It brings out your artistic side."

Carol Merrill, director of Weber State's Women's Center, was visiting New Orleans when she saw a gallery of bras created at a similar event.

"It was colorful and fun, and it was in support of breast cancer," Merrill said. "I decided it was something we had to do here."

Even though Ogden is no New Orleans?

"I knew a few feathers might get ruffled, but I didn't care," Merrill said. "And the response has been overwhelming."

Merrill left the event to buy more bras, some of which came from local thrift stores. An "inspiration table" was filled with a dozen or more completed brassieres, including one painted with a Vincent Van Gogh landscape, another with curled purple ribbons and feather boas, and a third with plastic grapes overflowing one cup. Party hats adorned one set of cups, which were resting near a bra with twin baby dolls, and another sporting a fake burger, opposite faux fries.

Anne Olsen, 18, of Ogden, saw a royal blue bra, and red and white ribbon. A patriotic bra seemed logical.

"It's a fun way to get involved with a cause," said Olsen, a business administration and marketing major with a women's studies minor. "It's a fresh approach. It's different and fun."

The right side had glitter stars on a blue background. Olsen wrote "vote" on a red and white ribbon in the center. The left cup had red and white stripes, with names of women serving in the United States House of Representatives and Senate handwritten on the white sections.

"With room left over," Olsen said. "More women need to get involved, any way they can."

Joy Deaton, 20, of Layton, drew on mascot face Waldo Wildcat, and gave him pipe cleaner whiskers. The other cup got glue-on fake jewels.

"My grandma survived breast cancer twice," she said. "The event is an attention getter, which is what we need."

Merrill said she's supplied 75 bras so far, and some crafters are supplying their own. Teams from McKay-Dee Hospital and several area clinics that deal with breast cancer patients are decorating bras, as are many WSU staffers and faculty members.

Anyone can donate a decorated bra, Merrill said. She just needs to have it in by Monday, at the latest, to include it in a planned display. Drop it off at the Women's Center, in Room 322 of the Shepherd Union Building, during business hours. The display will be in the Shepherd Union atrium starting Tuesday, when judges will chose a winner from the entries.

Merrill said it has not yet been decided whether the bras will be donated as a display to generate money for breast cancer research, or whether the bras will be auctioned off at WSU, with money raised to directly benefit an individual student struggling with the disease.

Either way, the festive bras already have people talking.

"It's been a great way to draw attention to the issue of breast cancer," Merrill said. "We have pamphlets we give people for more information, and we've handed out a few today. But pamphlets on a table don't get the same reaction. These bras are so much fun, they bring a smile and sunshine to a serious topic."

Contact reporter Nancy Van Valkenburg at 801-625-4275 or nvan@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @S_ENancyVanV.

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