In 1996, 13 women power-walked the New York City Marathon wearing bras, shorts and sneakers to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. Last year, after 16 years, that movement — The MoonWalk New York City — resurfaced.
“I literally dreamed of walking the New York Marathon in a bra. I just woke up with the idea. It just tickled me to think of doing it. I had no idea it would become anything more than that,” says founder Nina Barough from her home in England’s Berkshire countryside. “I got a group of girls together with no intention of continuing it past being a great weekend in New York City with friends. I thought it would be a real blast and do some good at the same time.”
Ironically, two months after founding the event, Barough was diagnosed with breast cancer herself, but despite an aggressive treatment course, she continued the MoonWalk at the London Marathon the next summer. Since then, the Walk the Walk's annual MoonWalks in London, Edinburgh and Iceland have raised over $144 million for breast cancer causes. The MoonWalk New York City presented by Empire BlueCross BlueShield returns this year, July 26, and benefits the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Breast Examination Center of Harlem.
MoonWalk’s uniform of a brightly decorated bra encourages women to feel good about themselves. An added issue of owning one’s body and health developed on the sidelines.
“It was a controversial thing to do,” Barough says of the first marathon walk in a bra. “At that time, talking about breast cancer was taboo and it was a behind-closed-doors struggle for women. Also, women are often worried about their physical appearance. They think they’re too flat-chested, or they don’t like their arms. I always say, give it a try and be prepared to be surprised. After doing the walk, women accept their bodies more.”
Going all out
The MoonWalk is also about camaraderie and owning city streets.
“In 2013, other people on the street looked at us with amusement. It looked like a bunch of crazy girls going out,” says Barough. “There’s a great sense of freedom [in that]. It’s a team of women and they are in control.”
For more information about The Moonwalk New York City and to register for the July 26th event, visit walkthewalkamerica.org