More than just PINK!

As you know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You will see PINK everywhere. Many refer to this phenomenon as "Pink-Washing". No matter how YOU feel about the color by now EVERYONE knows what is stands for.

So why Pink you ask?

Believe it or not it has been researched. "Pink is the quintessential female color"-Margaret Welch Director of Color Association in the US.

The Profile of Pink is playful, life-affirming. That's why you'll see Pink for "It's a Girl" and Blue for "It's a Boy".


We have studies as to it's calming effect, it's quieting effect, it's lessening of stress. Pastel Pink is a shade known to be health giving, that's why there is the expression "in the Pink". PINK is, in other words everything CANCER notably is NOT!!

Pink-washing VS Awareness: Pro: Is Pink Powerful? I would say yes it is. Before the Pink Ribbon or Loop (I'll tell you that story in another blog) no one dared bring attention to a Disease of a Woman. Do not talk about Breast Cancer in public. It was a hideous and shameful thing to have. To some degree it still may be, but now with awareness, open discussions, public attention, research and advancements in treatment there was light shed on a dark place. This led it's way to early detection and drastic changes in diagnosis, treatment and survival rates in some women. I say some not all because African American/Black Women have not benefited from this monumental change. The mortality rate for African American Women/Black Women is still horrendous.

So without knowledge there is not evolvement. The color PINK was instrumental in that evolution.


The Pink Ribbon officially came on the scene around 1990 (again there is a back story). That's right about the same time digital mammography was seen as the best detection tool for identifying cancers. The NCI reported increasing breast caner funding by 60% from 1998-2003. This was never seen before for any cancer, let alone a cancer for Woman.


Con: Has the Color Pink been blown our of proportion? Has Awareness been replaced with Greed? I would also say yes as well. Last year alone 6 Billion dollars was spent on advertising campaigns, marketing and Pink products alone. Just like with anything else in our society there are opportunist who find a way to capitalize and prey on the vulnerable.

The Pink Ribbon = Breast Cancer Awareness =The Shopping Disease. If shopping could cure cancer, Breast Cancer would be cured by now. Companies are well aware that in October if you put a Pink Ribbon on a product it will fly off the shelf even if none of the proceeds made it's way towards Breast Cancer research. Who's fault is that really? If women did not have some connection or feel compelled to purchase these products they would stay on the shelf. The connection and compunction was to help a greater cause privately in their own way. Research as shown that people will be more incline to make smaller personal contributions towards a cause (i.e., Pink ribbon item) than write out a check to an organization.

The problem is the distribution of the donated proceeds is not regulated. There are no "Parenting" third party organizations that oversees ALL Breast Cancer donations made by retailers and companies to insure fairness and accuracy.

Some companies have good intentions to donate all or portions of proceeds to awareness and research. Others have the ultimate goal of profit not health. Some items that have the color Pink or the Pink Ribbon on them are known risk factors for Breast Cancer itself. Like Mike's Hard Pink Lemonade with a Pink Ribbon or KFC's Pink Bucket of Fried Chicken. Well, Alcohol and Obesity are both relative risk factors for Breast Cancer. That's like selling Cigarettes with a whimsical cartoon of a Human Heart on the package with an advertisement about Healthy Heart Awareness. Counter intuitive right?

This battle will never be won. Awareness vs Pink-washing.

Those who feel compelled to sport your Pink ribbons, scarfs, tees and such: Do SO PROUDLY!!!. If that's means something to you don't let others steal your joy. Just be mindful of what you purchase. READ the fine print on the back of the package to see exactly how much of your donation is really being used for the cause. If you are unsure simply

write a check to a particular charity and you will be sure that 100% of that money will be used appropriately and have a tax write off at the end of the year!

Those who can't stand the color Pink. Your anger is justified. Wether you are a cancer patients, survivor, lost someone to it or watched someone suffer horrible through it, your anger is justified. Just know the Color Pink did not do those things, Breast Cancer did. Be angry at Breast Cancer. Hate Breast Cancer. Be specific where you target you anger and hatred. Cancer has been around at lot longer than the Color Pink and The Pink Ribbon.

Dr. Smith Breast Cancer Surgeon

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