Happy October, all. Last year as the nation “celebrated” breast cancer awareness month, my friends, family, and I became acutely aware of breast cancer. To anyone in the throes of a new breast cancer diagnosis, I sympathize with you. October must be the worst time to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Yes, Yoplait, I am aware. Yes, NFL, those big guys do look a little silly in pink helmets. Yes, 5 hour energy, I have heard of breast cancer. (5 hour energy, really? Still don’t quite get that one. I’d think that stuff would give cancer to mice for sure.) Back in my days in the lab, I thought the idea of saving, washing, and mailing in pink yogurt lids was laughable. Why not just write a big check and be done with it, Yoplait? Why do I have to do all that work? And all the athletes in their pink gear? I was outraged that they spent the money on that gear and didn’t just donate it to a good cause. Then my husband informed me that they auction them off and donate the proceeds, and apparently people will pay a premium for sweaty game-worn gear. So there’s that.
But still, I can’t help but feeling like all the companies that are slapping a pink ribbon on anything they can think of are capitalizing on a life threatening disease. Maybe it’s just an emotional reaction, and I know plenty of “survivors” who love them some pink ribbon swag. But I can’t help but feel a little dirty thinking of the money companies are making schilling all their pink products.
That said, I think money for education is fine (though are there really women who don’t know they should get yearly mammograms?) and I think money for research is great. I’m partial to Komen and Avon, as I’m familiar with their granting mechanisms and I know they stand behind strong science. I know there are plenty of products– good products, things I might even like– that donate a portion of their proceeds to some worthy breast cancer cause. But really, it’s just a portion, and it’s rarely more than a dollar or two for each item. (That 5 hour energy? Five cents per bottle.) I’ve been trying to come up with an educated position on this issue, I don’t want it to be emotional on any level. And so I’ve decided. If I really like that pink ribbon lipstick/blush/yogurt, then I’ll buy it and be happy that they’re giving a small donation to a good cause. But if I feel like I need to support a good cause and like a different lipstick, then I’ll buy the lipstick I want and send my two dollars to Komen on my own.
2 thoughts on “Pinkwashing”
When I was diagnosed in February I told my family I didn’t want any pink stuff. My sister on the other hand wanted all things pink, she even made a pink room in her house and puts up a pink tree every year at Christmas. As I went through surgery, treatment, and all the emotions that went along with it, I changed my mind. I have a few pink things, including a blanket that our church group made me. But I agree with you: I buy yoplait because I like it, not because of their “commitment to the cure” such as it is, and I certainly don’t use 5 hour energy because it’s simply not healthy. I’ve walked in the Race For The Cure for friends, and next year I plan to walk for them but also for me….because I am a survivor.
Glad you got what I was saying and weren’t offended. And yes, I’ve done the Race for the cure, and even did the 3-day breast cancer walk years ago. Fundraising = good. Selling yucky pink stuff = not so much.