Cervical cancer campaign uses hairless cats to encourage screening

UK: MyGP wanted to encourage women to attend cervical cancer screening during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. They decided to use the amount of fur on domestic cats to encourage women to go for screening. It’s what I would call a fusion of two aspects of life: the concept that women like domestic cats and the amount of pubic hair women have (or remove!).

myGP cervical screening campaign
myGP cervical screening campaign. Image: NHS via Daily Mail.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The NHS are asking women whether they are “Bushy, bare or half-way there” in respect of how much pubic hair they have. The campaign organisers ask women to, “Share an image of the cat that best reflects your undercarriage/flower/bits (technical term vulva) current look”. They’re asked to use the hashtag #myCat. Let your friends know, they say. They present a picture of a hairless cat (a Sphynx) with a long-haired cat and a shorthaired cat on either side. So there’s a range of hair lengths with no hair being an option. This is meant to reflect the amount of pubic hair that a woman has.

A critical woman!
A critical woman!

I checked and cervical cancer does not result in a loss of pubic hair. The campaign, therefore, is focusing on how many women have their pubic hair waxed or shaved. And it appears there is a connection, per a study, between shaving pubic care and vulva dysplasia and inflammation (relevant?). Perhaps there is a connection between cervical cancer and pubic hair shaving which is what the campaign might be targeting. I am speculating bigtime as this is way beyond my pay grade! But I’m trying to make some sense of it.

I think it works and I’ll tell you why. It’s got the internet chattering about it, particular on social media. This is exactly what the campaign organisers wanted to happen. It doesn’t really matter if people disagree with it (and a lot of women do disagree) or whether they like it. Some women approve. The objective is to raise awareness. It has achieved that objective.

Some women think the campaign is demeaning and offensive. And they say that it completely misses the mark. A lot of women claimed that pubic hair has nothing to do with cervical health. They believe it might dissuade women to attend routine cervical screening appointments. Others think that it is childish and that they want to be treated like adults. While one woman thought that it was “seriously inappropriate. Making crude, sexualised jokes about women’s reproductive health will only put more women of attending clinic appointments….”

It appears that some women who’ve been critical have missed the mark. It appears that women like to go for a pubic hair waxing before a cervical screening but are unable to get a wax during lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. So there is a connection between how much pubic hair women have and cervical cancer, albeit a tenuous one. Apparently some women are embarrassed to go for cervical cancer screening unless they are waxed.

The campaign was created by a team of women and based on strong data according to the NHS. Hillary Cannon, Chief Marketing Officer at myGP and a cervical cancer survivor said that the campaign was designed to start conversations and save lives. She said that since the start of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 25,000 people have downloaded the myGP app. She says it encourages people to attend. I think she’s right by the way judging by the reaction to this campaign!

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