Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pink Washing

This weekend I watched an eye-opening and interesting movie. It's called Pink Ribbons Inc. and as you can guess from the name, it explores a phenomenon labelled "pink washing".

In the past 15-20 years companies have been capitalizing on the colour pink in the name of breast cancer. You have certainly seen these items in various stores...everything from a pink hammer, vaccuum cleaner or food products with a little pink ribbon on them.

When you stop to think about the money that is raised each year for breast cancer research (or just cancer in general) it is mind boggling. From selling these pink products and donating a pittance to research (usually 10 cents or so) to the various runs and walks in support of the cause, millions of dollars are raised and donated to research.Why then, is the risk of getting breast cancer increasing rather than decreasing? In the 1940's ...the chance of a woman getting breast cancer was 1 in 22. Now the risk is 1 in 8.

I can understand the draw to participating in the walks/runs. Survivors and their families feel empowered and a sense of belonging. It would be very easy to get caught up in the hype that inevitably accompanies these events. But, I ask you to stop and question just where the money is going. Only 5% is going towards research on prevention. It's interesting that so much money is being spent on research to find a cure for something that we cannot prevent. Very little, if any, is going to support those that are directly effected by the disease. To me, it is unthinkable that someone can be diagnosed and sent on their way with little more than an appointment for chemotherapy and a free wig. This is a life changing moment for these women and they need support. They need someone to talk to about so many aspects of what they are about to go through and they need direction in regards to what resources are available to them. And they need resources to be available to them.

What is certainly puzzling is companies that "support" breast cancer with these campaigns but also sell products that are known to be linked to the disease. Avon, and Estée Lauder have pink campaigns and yet they sell products that are hazardous. Check out websites like this one for more info.

The colour pink was chosen for this cause because it is associated with comfort, feminine, soothing, warmth, tender and affection. People get a warm fuzzy feeling when they support the pink ribbon campaign. However, there really is nothing comforting or affectionate about getting a breast cancer diagnosis. Consider seeing this film or at the very least, think twice before you purchase a pink ribbon product.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Very well put! People really need to start looking into how these cancer lotteries and walk a thons are run. Most people would be shocked to find out how little $ make it to the cause. Great blog post.