We’ve all seen them- those cute little pink ribbons on the the corner of every item you could ever possibly buy, using a guilt tactic of sorts to get consumers to purchase a product because a menial percentage of the product price will be donated to Breast Cancer research: Pinkwashing. It’s defined as a form of cause marketing that uses a range of pink ribbon logos, displayed on various products that has totally taken over the cancer research support and charity, turning Breast Cancer Awareness month into a contest of who can pretend they’re doing the most to help a cause many know so little about. The “Thinking Pink” has become trendy, but unfortunately hurts more than it helps.
What exactly is it that makes these little pink ribbons so evil? Money is going to charity, right? Sort of. Many of the organizations that benefit from this pinkwashing pay massive salaries (many six digits large) to their highest in command and spend even more annually on advertising as opposed to funding the research itself. The Susan G. Komen organization, for example, donates no more than 20% of the product price (the Breast Cancer Research Foundation donates 91%). Studies have also found that many of these “pink” products actually contain cancer causing chemicals and carcinogens themselves!
There are social repercussions to pink washing as well. Tee-shirts with logos like “save a life- grope your wife!” Are dehumanizing and disinclude not only those suffering from breast cancer who don’t identify as female- not to mention sexualizing a terrible disease that affects hundreds of thousands of people every year. These slogans have totally taken over how our society views charity as a whole – overshadowing so many other social causes and even just types of cancer (there are more than 100 currently identified!) that are equally as deserving of recognition and support.
So what can we do to help? For starters, we can educate ourselves! There are all kinds of causes and charities out there, and it’s easy to get lost in a slew of misrepresentation and fallacies. Sites such as Think Before You Pink are a great place to start! In regards to Cancer specifically, encourage your loved ones to get tested annually for whatever their risk, not forgetting to get tested ourselves. Those who feel they are at risk should ask their doctor how to perform an at home check, examining themselves regularly. Lastly, we can remember that our time is as good as our time! Many charities find themselves with ample funding and supplies but lacking in helping hands- this is a great option for those looking to help who might not be able to financially. Charity events such as walks and runs sponsored by the right organizations (the American Cancer Society does many) are also wonderful ways of showing your support. As someone who has participated in multiple I can vouch that the love, joy, and hope emanating throughout these events are awe-inspiring to say the least. I cannot advocate for them enough.
I’ve had enough of “save the boobies,” “free the tatas” or anything of the sort. Women – PEOPLE are so much more than that. We are capable of helping in the biggest of ways if we simply think and shop smarter, placing our support in the proper hands and educating ourselves on the causes nearest and dearest to our hearts. Forget “saving second base” Let’s come together and save lives, not just in October, but all year long.
Here are some great resources to help you get started:
http://www.thinkbeforeyoupink.org/ – Think Before You Pink
https://www.bcrfcure.org/ – the Breast Cancer Research Foundation
https://donate.cancer.org/index – the American Cancer Society
http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam- comprehensive breast exam tutorial
http://gildasclubnyc.org/ free comprehensive cancer program includes support groups, educational lectures and workshops for everyone impacted by cancer – men, women, teens, and children.
https://www.marysplacebythesea.org/ respite home for women who are receiving treatment for cancer. We provide services that complement their medical treatment
http://pantene.com/en-us/experience-main-section2/beautiful-lengths Pantene Beautiful lengths- only requires 8 inches for a donation, does not discriminate by prognosis or charge patients for wigs!