Keep A Breast™ Founder Shaney jo Darden helps us learn more about early detection, breast health support and education, and how toxin-free personal care products fit into the conversationPosted on October 14, 2019 Written by: 100% PURE®
No doubt you’ve heard the saying: your body is a temple. While the saying is open to interpretation, most regard this as a sentiment of self-protection and respect towards the body. We juice, we exercise, we meditate – we make tons of conscious decisions every day (well, most days) to keep our bodies healthy and happy.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: a time for education, support, and dialogue surrounding the importance of knowing your body, your temple – and understanding how to take proactive care of that sacred place. As architects and stewards of the clean beauty movement, 100% PURE™ felt it unequivocally necessary to support the message of breast cancer awareness, and all that it entails – including the relevance of living a clean, non-toxic lifestyle.
Last weekend we hosted a panel discussion at our Fashion Island store, to discuss breast cancer awareness in its many forms. The panel included Keep A Breast Foundation founder Shaney jo Darden, breast cancer survivor and beauty expert of The Ellen Show Kym Douglas, and our founder Susie Wang, moderated by the lovely René Daniella.
P.S. – Shop our non-toxic Breast Cancer Awareness Beauty Set to help support the cause! All donations go to the Keep A Breast Foundation.
Ahead of last week’s panel, we got an exclusive interview with Founder and Global CCO of the Keep A Breast Foundation, Shaney jo Darden. This woman is a creative powerhouse, fierce supporter of women’s rights, and absolute she-spiration who empowers women to know their bodies through art and education. The boldly creative mission of Keep A Breast continues to educate young people around the world, helping them to understand the power of prevention through early detection.
Listen up, ladies! Here’s what Shaney had to say ahead of her panel discussion, about the importance of self-exams, art and community outreach, and the insidious role that our everyday products play in breast cancer awareness.
Has working within the sphere of breast cancer awareness enlightened you about how dangerous beauty products can be for women's health? Have there been any other “a-ha” moments that contributed to your awareness?
Definitely. It reframed something for me that had been instilled in me from a young age. When I was a kid my mom was always having us eat sugar-free this and that, she put jicama sticks in my lunchbox and generally introduced the idea of eating healthy, whole foods.
After I launched Keep A Breast in 2000, I became part of the world of breast cancer news, research, and facts. When I learned that most cancers were not related to family history, I started to ask myself then what can a cancer diagnosis be attributed to? I began studying more information about environmental links to cancer. I came across a report on The Breast Cancer Prevention Partners Website called The State of The Evidence written by Dr. Janet Grey. It was the scientific evidence of the environmental links to cancer.
Then it was just a rabbit hole of “a-ha” moments. Once Dr. Grey’s paper opened my eyes to the land of toxic exposures, I was questioning everything and looking to the organizations who were using the science to prove that using toxic products over time can harm us. This changed my life and inspired me to create The Non Toxic Revolution, our program that addresses the environmental links to cancer and educates on how to lower your exposure and your risk of breast cancer and other diseases.
Which personal care ingredients (or types of products) do you identify as the most high-risk for breast cancer? How do you think we can help to spread this knowledge and further promote education?
At KAB and NTR, we always suggest starting with the products you use on a daily basis because those are the products you expose yourself to the most. For most people, this looks like deodorant, toothpaste, lotion, skin care, and even makeup.
Checking your personal care labels for endocrine disruptors is a good place to start when cutting out harmful ingredients that increase your risk of breast cancer. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that increase the production of certain hormones, decrease the production of certain hormones, imitate hormones in the body, turn one hormone into another, interfere with hormone signaling, tell cells to die prematurely, compete with essential nutrients in the body, and bind to important hormones. There is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies. We have a list of the 12 worst endocrine disruptors on NTR, including BPA, phthalates, and dioxin.
Other ingredients we recommend avoiding are Parabens, Fragrance, Triclosan, a BHT. You can see more on our non toxic guides.
Early education is so incredibly key to early prevention. What are some other advantages of focusing on a younger demographic for prevention awareness?
Oh, there are so many! Some of the best interactions at Vans Warped Tour over the years have been young people coming back and telling us they got their whole family to switch to non toxic deodorant, or a parent stopping and thanking us for bringing this education to their kids, in their own voice.
Young people are the future, and the sooner they decide to be their own health advocate, the sooner they are to share their knowledge and demand companies and legislative protections be better. Look at the climate strikes for instance! 7 million people came out to demand institutions to make a change for a better future. We started the focus on young people because no one was telling them about their risk of breast cancer, and we continue because of their passion for a safe and better future.
What role has creativity played in both your journey and the mission of KAB? Do you think that creativity has helped you reach a wider audience, or gotten people to pay closer attention to this issue?
Absolutely. Creativity is my life, and building a movement from street art culture has been a dream come true. The concept of having artists paint on breast casts was inspired by Frida Kahlo. She was confined to a cast after breaking her spinal column, ribs, and pelvis, and I was inspired by the images of her painting her own cast. She made incredible beauty out of a painful situation.
And i love boobies! bracelets have been such an amazing creative experience. We got creative with it and chose a message that would spark conversation, and get people’s attention on prevention. As humans in this society, we have so much thrown at us all the time. Education through art and music is much more digestible than through warnings and fear. By getting creative with our messaging we give people the chance to see breast cancer prevention in a new lens, a lens they can see themselves in, and be empowered to be their own health advocate.
Why do you think that breast cancer awareness and prevention (i.e. self breast exams) have been neglected by so many women?
I think for two reasons. One, women have not been told to check themselves on a regular basis. Historically, women may get a breast exam once a year during their wellness appointment, but other than that, they are mostly told to wait until 40 and start regular mammograms. But, we know that women are getting breast cancer in their 20s and 30s, so this isn’t enough. Early detection is key and our Check Yourself! App helps you check yourself every month.
The second reason is fear. Checking for cancer is a scary notion, which is why we don’t recommend checking for cancer once a month. The Check Yourself! App is about knowing your body and your “normal”. If you know your normal, which is different for everyone, then you know when something is wrong and you can get it checked right away. We should be able to have a positive relationship with our breasts from the very beginning, no shame or stigma. Prevention and awareness are not so different when it comes to our own bodies, staying aware of our “normal” empowers us to prevent something going unnoticed.
I’ll leave you with this. I want you to take a minute and look at your breasts and tell them how much you love and appreciate them. Thank them for being there.
We love you, boobies – and we love you, Shaney! As long as people like Shaney and her teams at KAB and NTR are at the helm of critical change on the forefront of non-toxic and detection education, we know we’re headed for a brighter future. For more non-toxic guides, check out our posts on parabens, asbestos in makeup, non-toxic makeup and more!