The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Think Before You Buy Pink

3 min read
By KATIE REDMILES During the month of October, it is hard to miss the pink ribbon merchandise sold at any main corporate store supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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During the month of October, it is hard to miss the pink ribbon merchandise sold at any main corporate store supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What is missed, however, is what exactly the money does, how much of the proceeds actually go to breast cancer research and the hypocrisy of these companies selling “pink” merchandise during October.

Even since the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month 20 years ago, breast cancer rates are exponentially climbing. News Medical, an online journal, states that every 2.5 minutes another woman is diagnosed and every 13 minutes a woman dies from the disease.

With pink ribbons at almost every turn during October, from pink ribbon Barbie dolls to giant pink buckets of chicken being sold in the name of a cure, even if the product itself promotes the cancer and bad health.

Yoplait was one such company whose product once contained cancer causing ingredients.

Yoplait’s lid drive is happening on the University of Mary Washington campus, at the Eagle’s Nest, this October.

It was not until 2008 that Yoplait stopped using the rBGH hormone, which increases the risk for someone to contract cancer. In 2008, the Think Before You Pink organization, a project of Breast Cancer Action, wrote a letter to General Mills about the hypocrisy of their raising money for breast cancer research when their product aids cancer growth. Now, Yoplait is rBGH free, as is Dannon yogurt, which quickly followed suit.

Those companies who jump on the pink ribbon bandwagon also have started a trend of making a maximum amount of money that they will donate, but not informing the public of when that maximum is reached.

For instance, as referenced on Think Before You Pink’s website, in 2010, the Dansko shoe company sold pink clogs to raise money for a breast cancer program. Yet, when they reached their maximum of $25,000 raised, they still sold the clogs in the name of a cure, with the proceeds going only to the Dansko company.

The “sexy” side of breast cancer is the more twisted and pointless side of awareness. With campaigns such as “Booze for Boobs” and Project Boobies’ slogan “I grab and feel so cancer can’t steal,” all that is being promoted is sexism. The ribbon being pink also gives in to the old fashioned “girlie” stereotype, as well as the industry being centered on shopping.

Besides the hypocrisy and deception of pink campaigns, the question of why people feel we still are not aware of breast cancer needs to be asked.

Perhaps the reason why women are dying each day, or having their bodies maimed so that the cancer cannot take them is because the whole country is spending the majority of its efforts on promoting awareness, rather than promoting research for a cure. Everyone at one point or another has known someone, or knows someone who knows someone who had breast cancer. The country is aware. It is time for some action.

People may feel better about themselves when they choose the pink case of water instead of the off-brand one, or the pink shoes instead of the ones they came to the store for, but they need to consider where their money is going and if there are better ways to give to research.

A pink ribbon is not going to give those who had and have breast cancer any substantial hope; actual progress towards a cure will.