Friday, October 27, 2006

Sick of Pink

We are starting up blogging again in October. How did I know it was October? Pink of course. First the emails from online catalogues soliciting my business by promising contributions to breast cancer research or advocacy. On my home email, Activa Sports beat out the competition with a whole “Pink Ribbon Collection." Then a friend who has had breast cancer sent out a mass email asking me to forgo my health concerns for a good cause and buy pink M&Ms.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and to commemorate, we've created a special pack of M&M'S® Chocolate Candies. Each time you buy one of the specially marked bags, we'll make a donation* to The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Help support breast cancer research and outreach programs while satisfying your sweet tooth!
Later in the month, the tempting email arrived telling me that the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s breast cancer programs would be delighted if I could purchase a pair of jeans for Lee National Denim Day thereby contributing $5 to the cause. Or, if I prefer, I could hold a special event—ideas available on the Lee web site—and just wear my Lee jeans to the event.

In search of more pink to buy I came across a megasite that not only lists all the sites that have “gone pink” to support breast cancer awareness, but cruises the web constantly for automatic updates: Pink for October. On this pink site was a breathe of non-pink air written by “jeanne” of The Assertive Cancer Patient blog. What caught my eye was the opening line, “I hate pink.”

When I was a “tomboy,” as girls who rode bikes and climbed trees were called in the 1950’s, I hated pink. Even as a preteen I knew that pink symbolized the stereotypes of ultra girliness. Today, of course, this color, the symbol of sexist stereotyping, becomes a metaphor for a mainly female illness. As a social marketing campaign it is very effective: now pink is forever associated with breast cancer, and presumably a new kind of “girly” assertiveness. Color branding of diseases and causes, I suppose, serves a certain purpose (red=HIV/AIDS; yellow=Lance Armstrong style cancer; green for genocide in Darfur), but as an advocate, it is difficult to believe in the long term benefit of teaching people to treat diseases the way they treat their favorite sporting teams: wear the colors and cheer for bigger and better results. The bigger results may include more research dollars for breast cancer but at the price of supporting a growing industry that is benefitting commercially from the disease.

Here is a section of jeanne’s essay with an important message. Check out her blog for the rest.

Gag Me With a Pink Ribbon
October 24th, 2006 by jeanne

I hate pink,especially the pink ribbons. I really do. I don’t understand what they are for… support and solidarity, something like that, but I’m not getting that from a little twist of pink metal pretending to be a ribbon.
. . . .
Instead of pink ribbons, I’d rather have national health insurance or any health insurance plan that insures SICK people. The way things are now, if you are young and healthy, you can get health insurance at a reasonable cost. If you are old or, God forbid, sick, forget it.

If you want to support people with cancer, forget the ribbon and lobby for national health care. Or for a state health insurance plan that is open to everyone, rich and poor, sick and well.

. . . .


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3:48 AM  

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