Have You Been Pink-Washed? What It Means to Sport That Ribbon During Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Those pink ribbons football players wear on their uniforms and thousands of Americans wear on shirts, baseball caps, and more represent breast cancer awareness, right? What does that even mean? What do the ribbons truly represent?
To the millions of Americans who wear or see people wearing these pale pink ribbons, the ribbon represents attention to the prevalence of breast cancer, and the eminent efforts to find a cure. But to what end?
Know What You’re Getting
Breast Cancer Awareness month is the entire month of October. It’s fast approaching, which means it’s time to think before you pick up the pink. The money from every pink item you purchase does not necessarily go to any kind of cause or effort to find a cure.
Some products, such as New Balance’s pink sneakers, are created and sold purely to raise awareness of breast cancer. Only some of their Race for the Cure products actually benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which is committed to research and education about breast cancer prevention and treatment.
A lot of individuals have strong concerns about Breast Cancer Awareness month, precisely for this reason. Barbara Brenner, an activist and executive director of Breast Cancer Action, is quoted in an article published by the aforementioned organization as stating:
There is value to awareness, but awareness of what and to what end? We need changes in the direction the research is going, we need access to care---beyond mammograms---we need to know what is causing the disease and we need a cure.
In other words, awareness is great. But it’s only a small part of the battle.
The Benefits of Awareness
Fortunately, there is still value in that little pink ribbon. You just need to know what it is when you buy. When you purchase any Breast Cancer Awareness-related item, from PROMOrx or any vendor, read the fine print. Does it say on the item that proceeds go to breast cancer research? If not, then don’t expect that your purchase will benefit the cause directly.
Even if there are no specific funds going to breast cancer research from your purchase, remember this from Brenner’s quote: “There is value to awareness.” Just make sure that when you distribute your awareness products, they are distributed with intention. You can do this by:
- Giving them out to company employees participating in a Race for the Cure run/walk
- Distributing them to signify your company’s financial commitment, or devotion of time/energy to the cause through volunteer work
- Using them in conjunction with a company-wide commitment to selling/producing healthful and helpful products
If you want to actually support breast cancer research, do more than buy pink ribbon products. Donate directly to the cause, and enjoy a tax write-off while you’re at it. If you want to support research and encourage other people to do so by raising awareness, here are five companies to consider.
Know before you buy, especially when it comes to promotional products with your company name on them!