There are several reasons to be ambivalent about the Your Man Reminder app, and only one of them is sexy.
Released just a few days ago, the app comes from ReThink Breast Cancer, a Canadian nonprofit whose website promises it will raise "bold, relevant awareness" about breast cancer by infusing "sass and style into the cause."
Your Man Reminder is reasonably sassy, since it tackles the serious issue of breast health with photos of hunky guys. A user chooses from six available dudes, including a clean-cut preppie and a sweaty athlete, and then he occasionally appears on her phone with messages like, "Hey, Tammy. You're like a break for my eyes. Don't forget to give your breasts some TLC." TLC means Touch, Look, and Check, so this dreamboat is encouraging Tammy to give herself a personal exam. (The app also comes with information about cancer symptoms and a calendar for tracking doctor's appointments.)
Cute boys are more appealing than stern doctors, so Your Man Reminder might encourage some women to take care of themselves. That's great, but it's still disconcerting to see breast cancer treated like a flirty game.
Last year in the New York Times Magazine, Peggy Orenstein argued that breast cancer campaigns full of pink ribbons and tight T-shirts diminish the reality of the disease. She wrote, "Sexy cancer suppresses discussion of real cancer, rendering its sufferers — the ones whom all this is supposed to be for — invisible." Your Man Reminder is about early detection instead of treatments or cures, and it objectifies men instead of women, but Orenstein's argument still applies. It must be possible to downplay the fear surrounding breast cancer detection without suggesting a self exam is more fun than a bachelorette party.
Of course, if Your Man Reminder appeals to certain women and results in increased awareness, then it might be churlish to complain about the messaging.
But back to the sexy reason for ambivalence! Sociological questions aside, a woman who downloads the app should certainly get what she's promised.
The app's YouTube promotion features gorgeous men bouncing around in their underwear. It's implied they'll be on the app itself, donating their backsides to a noble cause.
But no! The app features six completely different models, and even worse, they've all got their clothes on. One guy is shirtless in one photo, but otherwise, there are jeans and t-shirts everywhere. For women seduced by the commercial, this could seem like deception.
I downloaded the app myself, because I'm always willing to look at hotties for research purposes, and I thought my six new friends were adorable. Yet because I'd been promised tight buns in tiny underpants, these lovely gentlemen were a disappointment.
Let's face it: It's hard to feel sassy when you're hopelessly looking for beefcake.