Slapping a pink pin on a person or product has long been synonymous with waging a war against breast cancer. But some advocates say that the girly-hued initiative is damaging the movement instead of pushing for improved patient care and services.
Even before Komen for the Cure came under fire for proposing cuts to Planned Parenthood, the organization behind the feminine-colored campaign was getting lambasted for “making light” of an issue that deserved a more hard-hitting approach.
Detractors see the way supporters paint store aisles, clothing items and homes with the aesthetic color throughout October as “pinkwashing.” Some say it’s a passive, superficial approach that doesn’t galvanize advocates to protest and pose hard-hitting questions. Others take issue with the fact that many companies whose products contain potentially hazardous ingredients can join –- and benefit monetarily from –- the Komen campaign.
“We used to march in the streets. Now you’re supposed to run for a cure. Walk for a cure, or jump for a cure,” breast cancer survivor Barbara Ehrenreich says in the documentary "Pink Ribbon, Inc.," which examines Komen’s corporate partnerships. “The effect of the whole pink-ribbon culture was to drain and deflect the kind of militancy we had as women were appalled to have a disease that was epidemic, yet we didn’t know the cause of.”
As Breast Cancer Awareness Month gets under way, consider how you will make a difference this month in the lives of the one in eight women who will be diagnosed with the disease. Whether it’s donating to charities that directly fund cancer treatment or pressuring government to take real action, find out how your involvement can have the most impact.