In Spite — or Because — Of Pink?

pink ribbonNo doubt you’re aware — since this is the month of awareness, after all — that all kinds of arguments exist against capital-P Pink and its annual bedfellow, October. The arguments swirl, especially with assistance from today’s social media. Earlier this month, Twitter’s trends and hashtags included #breastcancer, to be sure, but also #pinktober, #pinkwashing, and even #toomuchpink.

Dr. Gayle Sulik’s book, Pink Ribbon Blues, discusses these issues, determining that the truth about breast cancer has now been “silenced in a cacophony of pink talk.” Consumers buy countless pink tchotchkes and tee-shirts in the name of “hope” and “the cure,” but these products may have little or nothing to do with actually funding such intentions. (Read our review at, by scrolling down and clicking on the title.)

But today, I read a response to the question of Pink, by Nancy Brinker. She and the Komen organization are often pointed to as the bad guys in all of this. What she had to say made me stop and think: 

Breast cancer already had a head start of several thousand years before we got to it. And in the flutter of time since, we’ve gone from never discussing breast cancer publicly to a time when some say that maybe we talk about it too much. From a time when few women even knew what a mammogram was, to a time when some say too many women are getting them….Pink had everything to do with that.

I’m certainly not qualified to say decidedly whether the use of pink ribbon products and promotions is a good thing or a bad thing in today’s world. However, the fact that we’re still talking about it means something. Maybe this very debate is helping the cause by keeping breast cancer in the forefront of people’s minds. More important, this very debate and the response (outrage?) it has caused is making donors pay more attention to where they send their money and support. Maybe that means local, hands-on groups are getting more support than before. Maybe groups who actually help the uninsured and underinsured are getting more funding. Maybe — hopefully — research entities are starting to receive direct support.

We wouldn’t have that result if Pink and October had never met, would we? What do you think? Let’s use this post as a safe place to discuss it.

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2 Responses to In Spite — or Because — Of Pink?

  1. Kathleen Cahill says:

    Pink has done nothing but create a marketing tool for the greedy. It is taking an emotionally, pychologically fearful disease and turned it into a money maker. As a three time Breast Cancer Thriver the color Pink is appalling! It is in our faces daily as a reminder. Susan G komen is the only Breast Cancer organization I staunchly DO NOT support! They lost their focus a long time ago and now are TOO CORPORATE thinking! Come on….a pink mix master? A pink vaccuum? Pink cookies? If i colored mud pies pink they would sell! This is the bitterness i have now carry. Educate communities of women and men who are forgotten. Let go of the money hoarding and spend it on free programs without alot of red tape associated with it.

  2. Lee says:

    Kathleen, I know that your comments will resonate with many people. Thanks for sharing them.

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