Rage Against The Pink

Thursday, October 25, 2012
Next topic up in the "Ada has opinions series": Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

(You guys, I'm sorry, I have lots of opinions this October. Starting next week, I promise, there will be a return to the soft-hitting, easy-going, heartwarming, downright cozy content you've grown accustomed to on Of Woods and Words.)

I think we can all agree that the world would be a better place without breast cancer. But lately, I've been feeling a little "pinked out." Here's what's been bugging me about the pinkwashing that's been going on this October.

What the heck is up with the NFL's pink shoes?! 

This NFL season I've watched approximately 30 seconds of football action. And during those 30 seconds I shocked to see all the players running around in pink apparel on a field stamped with pink breast cancer awareness ribbons. I get that the juxtaposition of big burly guys advocating for a cause as delicate and feminine as breast cancer is supposed to make us stop and think about the cause, but something about the whole scene didn't sit right with me.

As a friend posted on Facebook earlier this month: "I personally would be more impressed if the NFL gave the money they spend on all the pink gear to the charity-- what a waste." 

Yes, she and I both know that the pink NFL items will get auctioned off and the proceeds will be donated to charity, but it still feels like a racket to me. 

To me, altruism works best when done quietly. If you broadcast your generosity (like NFL is doing with all that pink gear) then ego is coming into play and the motivation for your generosity starts getting the side eye from people like me. Give because you care about a cause, not because you think it'll be good for business.

Buy purchasing this product, .00099876 % of proceeds will be donated to breast cancer research.

Thank you for using your potentially cancer causing product to promote cancer awareness (Source)
I was driving home last week when I heard a commercial on radio offering 20% off a weight loss plan "in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month?" Wait, what?! I thought I needed my ears cleaned, but then they said it again, "20% off during the month of October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month."   

Now I know that obesity is a contributing factor in many breast cancer cases, but there are a lot of other reasons to maintain a healthy weight and using breast cancer as a way to promote your weight loss product feels like corporate America is making a profit on the back of someone else's misfortune.

There are so many pink products out there with the promise of giving some amount of their profits  back to a breast cancer research foundation. But would we have so many supposedly charitable products out there if this cancer had nothing to do with women's breasts or if the awareness color wasn't pink?

Breasts/sex sells. Pink sells. 

But there are all sorts of un-sexy cancers out there. Lung cancer is a cause much nearer and dearer to my heart than breast cancer, but I just had to google when lung cancer awareness month even is. (FYI: it's November.) We all know that pink is the color of breast cancer awareness, but most of us would be hard-pressed to name the color of ribbons appropriate for colon, prostate, stomach or any other cancer awareness. And there aren't too many products out there that promise to donate a portion of their proceeds to other cancer research funds. So stop using my potentially cancerous boobs to make money already!

Btw, here's a great list of pink items to avoid this October.

Susan G. Komen Foundation

Perhaps my biggest issue with Breast Cancer Awareness Month this year is the month's close association with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. I'm still livid about the foundation's (albeit, temporary) move this January to cut off  funding to Planned Parenthood. For years, Komen have provided grants to Planned Parenthood to make Planned Parenthood clinics places where women with little to no health insurance can go for an affordable breast exam and/or mammogram. But when Komen started getting a little heat from the pro-life contingency in Washington, suddenly, Komen balked and decided they no longer wanted to be associated with Planned Parenthood. Let's all start making chicken noises, shall we? I'm still so mad, I won't even buy Yoplait (and its pink caps) any more.

I've had issues with the Komen foundation long before the Planne Parenthood debacle of January/February 2012. Komen has been a notable bully in the cancer fundraising world, working to make sure they're the only organization that can use the "for the Cure" slogan for their fundraising events. This means they've actually pulled legal action against small fundraisers such as a local dog sled fundraiser called "Mush for a Cure" which, to date, has donated more than $100,000 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.Um, yeah, that's a good use of your donated funds . . . .

Susan G. Komen Foundation takes offense to this fundraiser
Lastly, Komen, which is by far the most recognizable name in breast cancer fundraising and research, contributes a mere 21% of their budget to actual research. Which basically means that for every 10 Yoplait yogurts I buy used to buy with pink caps, only a little more than 2 of those caps make any difference in the actual fight against breast cancer. *cue sad, disappointed music*
Moral of the story?

I think we can all agree that breast cancer is bad. Really bad. But you know what's even worse? All cancer. Let's ditch the pink and focus on finding a cure for all cancers by giving our funds directly foundations who are good stewards of that money.

P.S. Here's a link to about the only legitimate breast cancer awareness material that should be kept circulating all year long: How to perform a breast self-exam.


  1. Great perspective Ada. I think everyone gets so wrapped up in the fact that it's being supported and raising awareness that we forget the sillyness of what could be done INSTEAD. Well done!

  2. Amen! Well-said. You are not alone in your viewpoint.

  3. Exercise is the best activity, because it protects the people from several symptoms and makes them to maintain healthy weight.

     Cancer Treatment 

  4. I completely agree. I was thinking about this the other day. It's marketing taking advantage of an opportunity. Quit spending money on putting a pink ribbon on products or making them pink, and directly support the foundation!

  5. I 100% agree. Okay, I 99% agree because I bought some "breast cancer" tennis balls and have to admit I mostly bought them because who doesn't want light pink tennis balls? but generally, yes I would be much more obliged to donate directly! sometimes the offers make no sense whatsoever.

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