pink ribbon

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The Year of ‘Pink Fatigue,’ ‘Depinkification,’ ‘Pinkwashing’

October is over. Phew. Not that the month itself is bad — I’d vote it the best in New England. It’s the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month thing. Consider this month’s O magazine: its glossy pages include a two-page breast-cancer spread for dressbarn and full page pink-ribboned ads by Ralph Lauren, Vera Bradley, Hanes, kmart and Ford’s “warriors in pink.”

Kind of…much. Then there was the whole KFC pink bucket thing, and the NFL halftime pink ribbon…

This year, though, even as the pink crescendoed, so did the backlash. Alicia Staley, a Boston-based blogger and health activist on WEGO Health, put up posts that included “Thinking Pink and Seeing Red” and a “Major Pinkification Alert” about a new Facebook game that touted itself as “Like Farmville — for boobs.”

Mainstream media also called attention to the pink problem, from yesterday’s Boston Globe column, “Turning Pink Into Green” to a New York Times blog, “Pink Ribbon Fatigue,” which also mentions a new book, “Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health.”

I asked Alicia to sum up the problem. She replied:

Basically, the pink ribbon campaigns have been very successful, almost too successful.  We live in a fast-paced world, where everything happens at light speed.  Even our charitable efforts are in overdrive, and stripped down to the base essentials.  It’s down to a click, or a purchase.  The proliferation of the pink ribbon only serves to reinforce this mindset.  “One click and I’m done with my charitable efforts”  We’ve been fooled into thinking that a simple click on the computer or the purchase of a bucket of fried chicken will cure cancer.  As a breast cancer survivor, it’s hard to see efficacy in a campaign when we’re still seeing breast cancer effect so many lives.

So have we reached a tipping point? Continue reading