What’s the Big Deal with Pink?

Pink has never been my favorite color.  There was some pink drama when my friend Elyse and I shared an apartment in Los Angeles over the fact that the landlord had decorated (down to the pink carpeting!) the whole apartment pink for his mother, but that’s another story. The main reason I was drawn to one of the bloggers I follow is because of the title of her blog: But Doctor, I Hate Pink. I’ve always been more of a blue and green girl.

Despite my dislike of pink, I was ready to embrace pink in the first couple of months after I was diagnosed with cancer. I was ready to walk/run for a cure and join events to save the ta-tas. That was before I started to do my research. Funny thing about research, you don’t always like what you find. I didn’t like that Komen decided to stop their grant funding (for mammograms to low-income women) to Planned Parenthood in the spring of 2012 or that they spend less than 15% of the money they raise (and it’s a lot) on actual research for a cure or that Nancy Brinker makes more than the POTUS.  I didn’t like that Avon wanted me to raise over $2000 to enter their big walk in Chicago in late spring 2012–and I couldn’t find where that money was going when I tried to dig. In searching out Avon, though, I learned about pinkwashing–when questionable products are attached to pink to give the products more legitimacy through articles like this one in Forbes– Pinkwashing: Researchers take on Avon in Breast Cancer Battle.

And my issues with the use of pink to represent breast cancer went on from there. Needless to say, pink and I didn’t stay friends for long.

One of the things I do like is lists. Oh, and graphic organizers. My students will even tease me about my graphic organizers.  I like how lists and graphic organizers can consolidate ideas and give an overview of an issue. Who me, a visual person? I was very happy than to find my take on the pink ribbon neatly packaged in a blog list this week by Nancy at Nancy’s Point titled Make That Thirteen Things Wrong with the Pink Ribbon 

Ten Problems With the Pink Ribbon!

  1.  The pink ribbon has morphed into mostly a marketing tool to sell stuff and lots of it.

  2.  The pink ribbon is used to sell image as well as products. Talk about bang for your buck; I mean ribbon.

  3.  Pink ribbons are often misleading regarding dollar amounts being spent on breast cancer anything.

  4.  Sometimes pink ribbons are selling questionable, even possibly cancer causing products. (also known as pinkwashing)

  5.  Pink ribbons dress up breast cancer often times giving a skewed misrepresentation of this deadly disease.

  6.  Pink ribbons exclude the men who can and do get breast cancer too.

  7.  Pink ribbons are entangled with intangibles such as:  faith, hope and courage. No, I’m not opposed to these things just the entanglement because they crowd out other genuine feelings like fear, anger and uncertainty.

  8.  The pink ribbon has turned into the bully of ribbons. Yep, it has!

  9.  The pink ribbon has too many ties with blatantly sexist breast cancer awareness campaigns. Look around.

10. The results from all this ribboning have not been good enough – unless perhaps you’re selling pink stuff.

New Additions to the List! 

11.  Another problem with the pink ribbon is how divisive it has become. Sometimes it seems as if there are two sides in breast cancer land, the pink ribbon side and the non-pink ribbon side. Again, I’m not opposed to pink or pink ribbons. I am opposed to overuse and misuse; big difference. Enough with the ribbons! I hope we can all focus on the same goals. Collaboration is sorely needed. Let’s focus on that!

 12.  Individuals dealing with metastatic disease often feel shut out by all that pink and all those ribbons. I hear this over and over, so even if folks in the land of pink ribbons don’t believe this is true; it still is.

 13.  Another addition to my list this year is that too often this “pink ribbon entanglement” over-simplifies breast cancer by contributing to the illusion that it isn’t that bad anymore. One example – inflammatory breast cancer is pretty much left out of the awareness conversations. Why? Because it’s rare and anything but simple. Another example – buy something with a pink ribbon and you’ve done your part. Again, way too simple and not the answer.

Nancy asks in her blog if we have anything to add. I do have a number 14 actually:

#14–NFL sportscasters spreading inaccurate information!

One of last weekend’s NFL announcers spread the myth that all you have to do is get a mammogram and some treatment and than you will be cured. There are treatments for BC, but NO CURE!

7 thoughts on “What’s the Big Deal with Pink?

    • Don’t give up on pink, Nancy! Your comment did give me pause, though. I hope people didn’t think I was suggesting that I might dislike someone if they like pink. My beautiful nieces all love pink and I don’t hold it against them–and I have even supported a bc cause or two by buying something pink.


  1. 1. Not a pink person myself and now I don’t feel so guilty about not buying pink awareness stuff.
    2. I thought the same thing when I was watching football last week–stupid commentary and I was wondering where the money was really going after they auctioned the pink gloves, towels, etc. off later.


  2. Pingback: Weekly Round Up: The MBC Awareness Day Edition | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  3. I have always loved the color pink because I was a ballet dancer as well as taught ballet. I also am very upset with pinkwashing and I hate the way the color has been misused. With breast cancer I also first supported all the pink until I became aware of pinkwashing. I just wish that people understood the truth about breast cancer especially mets and I hope well meaning people don’t turn away from helping the organizations that are using their donations properly.


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