Breast Cancer Action Month, or "Pinktober," is a time when a sea of pink merchandise floods the market, all in the name of breast cancer education, research and patient support. For 31 years, this annual campaign has aimed to raise awareness and funds to combat a disease that still affects 1 out of every 8 women, and some men. However, as the pink ribbon adorns products ranging from jewelry to fast-food buckets, it's essential to scrutinize where our support truly goes.
The Origin of the Pink Ribbon
The story of the pink ribbon's origin is a poignant reminder of the grassroots efforts that sparked the breast cancer awareness movement. It began with Charlotte Haley, who, in 1991, designed a salmon-colored ribbon to draw attention to breast cancer, a disease that had affected her family. Two years later, the initiative caught the attention of Evelyn Lauder, a breast cancer survivor and the founder of Estée Lauder Cosmetic Companies. Under her leadership, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation was established, and the salmon ribbon evolved into the iconic bright pink ribbon we know today.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month Evelyn Lauder's vision extended further. She brought together a coalition of breast cancer fundraising organizations and corporations to establish October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month-long campaign is marked by the proliferation of pink merchandise and aims to educate the public about breast cancer. However, as the years have passed, the focus on the cause has sometimes been overshadowed by corporate interests.
The Pink Merchandising Controversy
Today, "Pinktober" brings an array of pink products. While these products carry the ribbon emblem, there's a growing concern that they may be more about generating profit than contributing to the cause, otherwise known as "pinkwashing." Advocates argue that the corporate coalition has increasingly prioritized financial gains over meaningful contributions to breast cancer research.
The Pink Shell Game
The heart of the issue lies in the "pink shell" game, where some companies donate only a fraction of their profits from merchandise sales, while retaining the lion's share for themselves. This practice is not only morally questionable, but it also undermines the genuine efforts to support breast cancer research. Additionally, there's a concern that many of the very companies donning pink ribbons actually have potentially harmful, cancer-causing chemicals in their products.
Pinkwashing Products for 2023
In 2023, "Pinktober" continues to see a range of products that raise eyebrows regarding their authentic commitment to the cause. Here are some examples of products to look out for this year:
Cosmetic Brands with Hidden Toxins
Many cosmetic brands claim to support breast cancer research while using ingredients in their products that have been linked to cancer-causing properties. It's important that consumers scrutinize ingredient lists of cosmetics and personal care items in general, and especially those adorned with pink ribbons.
Just like in previous years, fast-food chains may offer limited-edition pink packaging or products during "Pinktober." While these promotions may appear to support the cause, it's crucial to investigate how much of the proceeds genuinely go toward breast cancer research, as well as the nutritional value of these food items when considering cancer prevention.
Fashion brands often release "pink" collections during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Before making a purchase, it's wise for consumers to inquire about the portion of sales that is genuinely benefiting research and patient support.
"Think Before You Pink Goes Rogue" 2023 Campaign
Instead of getting seduced by the ribbons, focus on initiatives like the "Think Before You Pink Goes Rogue," which seeks to hold accountable companies that may not be fully transparent about their contributions to medical research. This campaign encourages consumers to be vigilant and make informed choices when selecting products to support during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
A Call to Action: "Think Before You Pink"
To avoid falling for "pinkwashing" and ensure our contributions have a meaningful impact, consider the following:
- Research the company's charitable contributions and their transparency regarding donations.
- Look for products and brands that have a clear and substantial commitment to supporting breast cancer research, education or patient support.
- Consider donating directly to reputable breast cancer charities and organizations to ensure your contribution goes where it's needed most.
- Support companies that commit to donating 100 percent of their pink merchandise profits to breast cancer research.
Ultimately, the goal of Breast Cancer Action Month is to make a meaningful impact on the fight against breast cancer. Instead of being blinded by the rose-colored objects, join us in contributing to initiatives that genuinely prioritize the well-being of those affected by this devastating disease.