Pink Revisited

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By Cathy Bueti, blogger and author of “Breastless in the City”Originally published in the Fall 2010 issue of The Source.

Pink has been my favorite color ever since I was a little girl. Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 31 years old, and I’ve never looked at that color the same again. After my diagnosis and during my treatment, friends and family started buying up all things pink. From pink tic-tacs to pink M&M candies, my head was spinning from all the pink and possibly too much sugar. I know they did it in support of me, but at the time, it was just a reminder that I had cancer.

Furthermore, I started to wonder why corporations, which on every other front care about making money, suddenly “get philanthropy” when it comes to breast cancer. Now I question the motivation of companies who slap the pink ribbon on their products. I feel exploited as a survivor and feel that most companies use the pink ribbon to increase their sales. Some of the products adorned with the ribbon are completely inappropriate: A pink snuggie? Pink sharpie pens? And this year’s favorite: pink buckets of fried chicken.  Many of the companies who say they support breast cancer are putting out products with known carcinogens in the ingredients. They want to raise awareness about breast cancer by generously giving money for “research.” Research into what, I often wonder? Breast cancer? What type of breast cancer? What aspect of breast cancer? They make it sound so simple, but are they prepared to reduce my exposure to carcinogens by cleaning up their products?

As a breast cancer survivor, I don’t want to come off as ungrateful, but there are many ways to support women with breast cancer that don’t involve buying a pink ribbon product. Until there are some serious changes in FDA policies governing safe cosmetics, for example, I think that consumers need to ask more questions. Otherwise, how do I know where the money is going? And if there is any doubt, I’d rather donate directly to the organization I want to support.

I am glad that the pink ribbon has brought breast cancer into the spotlight, but corporate greed too often gets in the way of social responsibility.

6 Comments

  1. Sharon Sanchez
    Posted October 12, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Great Comments. I totally agree with everything you said. It just doesn’t may any sense to patronize companies that are part of the problem. We need these companies to become part of the solution..not by making a donation, but by deleting things that are hurting the human race and the environment.

  2. Posted October 12, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I cannot stand the pinkwashing that goes on…just one more way to separate the oblivious from their money. There’s no profit in a cure for breast cancer.

  3. Posted October 12, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Yes like the Susan Komen Foundation’s largest sponsor is Yoplait. Talk about an insult. Dairy is the largest contributor to breast cancer. I have been involved in research with chronic fatigue and breast cancer. Too bad so many people make money off sick people!!!

  4. ActionsSpeakLouder
    Posted October 13, 2010 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    Interesting on connection btwn CFS and breast cancer, Margot. Dx with CFS abt. 5 yrs before BC Dx. Fatigue continues rampant afterward, with no help from docs; they just say “it was the chemo” now. What a nightmare.

    I’m so thankful we’re almost half way through the pink month. I used to love October and love all the Halloween stuff. That pink crap has totally ruined my joy of this month becuase now I dread it. I buy up food and toiletries so I don’t have to navigate the sea of pink in the grocery.
    But, because the stuff doesn’t sell all that well, it sits on the shelves for months and months.

    Also, I love NFL football but can barely stomach it in October because of the “raspberry” color the guys wear, which they call “pink”. They’re not even man enough to wear a true pink color, but I’d much prefer they just donated money to BCAction or another truly worthy (non-corporate funded) BC charity and wear NO pink at all.

  5. Posted October 13, 2010 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I agree with everything in this article. Why don'[t such articles find their way into editorial pages in local papers. Nobody questions the pink ribbon craze. It is a feel good strategy and does not necessarily make breast cancer patients or survivors feel good about thier situations. I suggest that Cathy Cueti send a copy of this aricle to her local paper, especially since it is breat cancer awareness month. By the way, what does awareness hav to do with it. Let’s see action!!

    Mimi Dow (2 times brest cancer patient and now survivor)

  6. Posted October 13, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    hoorah for all that are getting it. the more we open our mouths, the more we can educate others. I get completely frustrated with the NFL pink crud, I can barely watch a game because it starts to irritate me to NO end!
    maybe this time next year we won’t see any pink ribbon because we’ve made others aware

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