Their soft cups covered with tiled seashells, wispy white feathers, and metallic Carnival beads, the nine bras adorning the wall of Betsy’s Bar are not your normal skivvies.
But neither is beauty queen and two-time breast cancer survivor Carol Tuohy your normal 71-year-old.
With a jeweled crown, purple pageant sash, and television reporter in tow, Tuohy arrived at this Frenchtown tavern to discuss how the bras will help a local woman fight breast cancer.
The exhibit is a project of the Red Hat Society’s Caribbean Palm Chapter, of which Tuohy serves as the Queen Mother (aka president). The members gave their hand-decorated bras names, such as “In the Garden,” “Blue Skies” or “Queen for a Day.”
Below the bras is a shelf built by Tuohy’s husband, Marty, and bolted to it are nine collection cans labeled with each of the bra’s names and assigned numbers for patrons to vote for the best bra.
Betsy’s bartenders are encouraging patrons to slip $1 into the can of their favorite bra. Tuohy said all the money will go to Cancer Support VI, which is a community organization supported by International Capital and Management Company, who will give the money right back to a local woman who needs help covering her breast cancer treatment’s massive costs, Tuohy said.
The exhibit, which was up at Randy’s Bistro before coming to Betsy’s, comes as the nation is observing Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In an Oct. 15, New York Times article by Natasha Singer, some breast cancer advocates objected to the so-called “pinking of America.” Groups, such as Breast Cancer Action of San Francisco, characterize October’s omnipresence of pink T-shirts and ribbons as a savvy marketing campaign that oversimplifies the disease without supporting prevention or treatment research, Singer said.
Part of the great beauty of this local Breast Cancer Awareness Month effort is that all of the money is earmarked for a single community member who is uninsured, under-insured, or needs help covering the costs of her medical travel.
The tavern’s owner, Betsy Sheahan, did not hesitate to hand over the wall space to the exhibit.
When you reach Tuohy’s age and that of the Hatters, “everybody knows somebody with breast cancer,” Sheahan said.
Tuohy said the recipient of the funds will likely remain anonymous. While she is very forthcoming about her cancer diagnoses, mastectomy, and reconstruction surgery, not everyone wants to talk publicly about their personal disease, she said.
Six years since her last cancer occurrence, Tuohy’s latest senior pageant crown includes the 2010 Classic Queen of Hope, a national contest for women affected by cancer.
The bras will be on display until Oct. 24, so come see the bras, pick a favorite, and put a dollar in to vote – and if you are lucky, Tuohy will be there sipping her drink in a crown or big red hat to cheer you on.
To learn more about local resources for people affected by cancer, visit www.cancersupportvi.com.