Every October at BCA, our inboxes are flooded with pictures of bizarre- and often insulting- products that are “promoting breast cancer awareness”. For instance, last year we found a pink taser and a Smith & Wesson gun with a pink handle. Somehow, the manufacturers didn’t see anything odd about promoting a weapon that kills almost 5,000 women a year to keep the public aware of a disease that kills women. Hmm.
To counter pinkwashing, BCA is spreading our own kind of awareness- to let people know that pink ribbon marketing isn’t always helpful or harmless. It can give people the false impression that we can solve the breast cancer epidemic by purchasing more pink stuff. But fundraising is not enough:
- There is a lack of transparency about how much money will be donated to breast cancer organizations (vs. profit for the product manufacturers) and how that money will be spent.
- Despite millions of dollars raised to support research, little is being done to investigate the environmental causes of breast cancer and how social inequities- especially as related to race, ethnicity and class- determine how people are affected.
- Pinkwashing companies profit from breast cancer awareness campaigns, while maintaining harmful practices. For instance, cosmetics companies often use pink ribbons on their products, deflecting attention from the toxic and sometimes carcinogenic ingredients they use.
We constantly hear from members who feel exploited by companies who use the breast cancer epidemic to market products, especially when those products are distasteful or harmful.
This month, we’ll be featuring the worst offenders- some ridiculous and some downright disgusting. We welcome your commentary on each item and at the end of the month, we’ll be asking our readers to vote on the most offensive entry in our “Parade of Pink”.
First up: Clarisonic’s skin care brushes:
In this case, it’s not the item itself that’s the most galling- it’s the advertising. The press release accompanying the product launch is titled “Clarisonic Empowers Cancer Patients to Put Their Best Face Forward”. There’s nothing wrong with a person’s choice to use this device, but the implication that “putting ones best face forward” should be the utmost priority when dealing with breast cancer isn’t empowering at all.