An expert explains how Breast Cancer Awareness Month became a pink shopping bonanza.
The group of women who met to drink beer and cackle over the dirty pictures in their adult coloring books in Vancouver, Wash., certainly didn’t act like cancer patients — whatever that would even mean.
At the inaugural meetup of a new support group — one specifically designed for young women affected by breast cancer — there was nary a pink ribbon or inspirational T-shirt in sight.
As the color adopted by the Susan G. Komen organization, pink has been a mainstay of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month for decades now. While everyone supports the battle against breast, not everyone is in favor of the pink ribbon approach that has dominated the cause.
It’s impossible to get through the month of October without witnessing or taking part in the extravagant pink frenzy. Everything, from M&Ms to the White House in 2011 to hundreds of students on Pink Out Day, is doused in pink.
Breast cancer awareness, critics charge, has become a sort of feel-good catchall, associated with screening and early detection, and the ubiquitous pink a marketing opportunity for companies of all types.
For all the awareness, they note, breast cancer incidence has been nearly flat and there still is no cure for women whose cancer has spread beyond the breast to other organs, like the liver or bones.
Cause marketing works for the bottom line, but it doesn't work for the disease - Karuna Jaggar, Breast Cancer Action.
So, as you’re flooded with pink during the month of October, I urge you to stop and educate yourself before you spend your money on items and campaigns that solely focus on awareness.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I have breast cancer. The country is fully pinked out in support of breast cancer screening and research, and though I know all the pink is meant to make me feel good, to tell me that the entire country has my back, I actually find it profoundly alienating. Pink is not a serious color, though cancer is a very serious disease. Pink is about femininity; cancer is about staying alive.
She believes the popularization of “pink washing,” the commodification of breast cancer, is dangerous, and the all-out October marketing has made some women think lightly of their diagnosis.
Pink links October, breast cancer, and the NFL. But so does the color of money. And many in the cancer community feel "Breast Cancer Industry Month" is doing more harm than good.
Pink marketing has added millions of dollars to breast cancer research but breast cancer continues to be a major killer of women worldwide. Is pink marketing better for business or finding the cure for breast cancer?
Pinkwasher: A company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products that are linked to the disease - Think Before You Pink
As you are flooded with pink during the month of October, I urge you to stop and educate yourself before you spend your money on empty campaigns. Thousands of organizations use the pink ribbon, the color pink and the faces of women like me to sell their deceptive marketing campaigns.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and with the flurry of pink ribbons comes new studies about the harms and benefits of mammograms for breast-cancer screening. Every year, confusion ensues.
From the beginning, the pink ribbon connoting breast cancer awareness has been embroiled in controversy. Today, some members of the movement wear it proudly, giving thanks for both the symbol and its attendant charity-dollar largesse. Others hate it with a passion. But to much of the media and the world at large, the ribbon is the breast cancer movement. Where did the ribbon come from, where is it going, and what has it meant along the way?
"It would seem that, in many instances, showing 'awareness' is more about the ribbon wearer than the sufferers of any given disease," Moore adds.
Billions of dollars have been raised through the tireless efforts of women and men devoted to putting an end to breast cancer. Yet, breast cancer rates in North America have risen to 1 in 8. "What's going on?" asks Barbara Brenner in Pink Ribbons, Inc. a new film now playing across Canada.
The football league seems more interested in winning female fans than actually helping to find a cure.
Unfortunately, the NFL is not the only major corporation to use, of all things, breast cancer as a marketing tool.
Perhaps there is a lesson here from an organization that makes $12 billion a year we can all learn from as Dr. Makary points out – a commitment from our society to a deeper, meaningful investment, including research – for all cancer patients – not just for awareness, screening and early stage for a particular cancer.
STOP THE DISTRACTION of pink ribbon marketing and culture. We are calling attention to the countless ways the breast cancer industry, and the culture of pink it has spawned, distract attention away from the bold action we need to successfully address and end the breast cancer epidemic and to achieve health justice for all women in all communities.
You always know when October rolls around—and it's not just because of those much-maligned Pumpkin Spice Lattes. From neighborhood juice bars to massive football stadiums, everyone and everything is decked out in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Any company can put a pink ribbon on its products. The widely recognized pink ribbon symbol is not regulated by any agency and does not necessarily mean it effectively combats the breast cancer epidemic. Some products sport pink ribbons to try to communicate that they are “healthy” and don’t contribute to breast cancer, such as a number of natural health and beauty products.
Pink is difficult, if not impossible, to avoid — and corporations know it.
Throughout October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, companies splash their products with the color to indicate that they "support" those living with breast cancer. But while the practice may be upping the image of the company, there's often little action to back up corporate claims of charity.
It's "pinkwashing" at work.
Think Before You Pink®, a project of Breast Cancer Action, launched in 2002 in response to the growing concern about the number of pink ribbon products on the market. The campaign calls for more transparency and accountability by companies that take part in breast cancer fundraising, and encourages consumers to ask critical questions about pink ribbon promotions.
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