Much Ado About… Ladies Lifting Their Skirts?

With the on-going controversy on Stomp Straits Times, about the Cervical Cancer Awareness campaign “Lift Your Skirt, Save Your Life, we have invited Linda Black to share her thoughts on this.

(Photo via STOMP Straits Times)


It began calmly enough, a tongue-in-cheek ad that was designed to get people talking. Three personalities wanted: fearless girls who don’t crumble under pressure, who could get behind this campaign and really drive home the overall message: Lift Your Skirts, Save Your Life … were needed.

Rosalyn Lee, outspoken radio DJ, Texan (and by that virtue alone, naturally opinionated) Linda Black, tv host/model, and DJ Siau Jiahui became the poster girls for this campaign, aimed to bring awareness to Cervical Cancer Awareness Month (May) and the importance of going for screenings.

I only saw today that there was a potential “controversy” to the ad I participated in for the Singapore Cancer Society. We went in fully informed of what the ad was going to look like, the slogan, and the awareness campaign around it. I agreed that my image, along with the others, would be used to push this campaign visually and drive home the fact that regular screenings are essential. In the wake of online opinions (some educated, most not), I have reflected on the entire kerfuffle and have drawn the same conclusion with the steely resolve any woman should have: and it doesn’t change my opinion at all.

I am so proud of the campaign, and I think it was beautifully shot and lovingly edited with women’s health issues at heart. I stand by that, and I will defend it and my decision to be a part of it.

That being said, the campaign is a major success – loads of people are talking about it, or have heard of it, and a kernel of truth has been planted: when was the last time you ladies have had your screening? Isn’t it marvelous that in this country, the powers that be care enough about you to give you your rightfully deserved screening for FREE? This would NEVER happen on a nationwide scale in the US! It would be nice if i live to see the day when it does though…

The point is not whatever perceived sexism one sees in the campaign. (That is, hilariously, a sentiment owned wholly by the one with that opinion.)

The campaign does not belittle women by positing them as sex objects, or patronizing them with unhealthy images of women. There are plenty of fashion campaigns here in Singapore and abroad that commit that heinous act on a daily basis. I have more issues with THOSE visual images than this one – which actually has a POINT to it.

It is simply a tongue-in-cheek slogan, with three pretty ladies (one who had a brush with cervical cancer herself) who want to pass on a very important message. Be aware, don’t delay – get your screenings today.

I read somewhere a blogger mentioned “Why not say – Spread Your Legs, Save Your Life?

Well, we see this image already in fashion ads today that have no grander point than to sell you overpriced brand name products  – and have for years. As long as the visual campaign was agreeable to me, I would take part. Why would spreading my legs to get a life saving exam be any different than lifting my skirt? Provocative images of women are used wantonly for such noble causes as selling shoes, handbags, and other items, so why not one for the awareness of cancer testing? I would say that was the nobler cause. As for any claims that it “outrages modesty”, I say thats a load of holier than thou, full of judgement, emotional baloney that has no basis in logic at all.

The reality is – the campaign didn’t say “Spread Your Legs”, but “Lift Your Skirt” accompanied by some pictures in homage to Marilyn Monroe, a titillating image back in the 50’s, and an iconic one at that. If someone finds me in a white dress scandalous, then why not the image of me last year going TOTALLY NUDE as Venus for the SCS Chairity Campaign last year?

My point: I HAPPILY promote the importance of a non-surgical exam that could SAVE lives – not worry about those who think women should be as sexless as ken dolls. If you are worrying about the implications of “sex” rather than the implications of cancer – your priorities might need some tweaking.

Oh, and go get your pap smears!