|Think Before You Pink|
When I was diagnosed 21 years ago with breast cancer the activist within me was ignited. I was shocked that my world was not more aware of this insidious disease that in 1989 1 in 9 was the rate of this disease.
I worked tirelessly with all types of organizations, several in the San Francisco Bay Area as that seemed to be the place where the most noise about the disease was being made. Pat Anstett of the Detroit Free Press introduced me to Elenor Pred, founder of Breast Cancer Action, one of the first activist groups in the country.
My plastic surgeon and I developed hangtags that described how to do breast self-exam (BSE). We contacted bra manufacturers and were told by all that they did not want to alarm women that they might get breast cancer.
Then came the Pink Ribbon and then Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Astra Zeneca the manufacturer of Tamoxifen an estrogen-blocking drug that is routinely prescribed for women post-treatment started Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Astra Zeneca is also the largest producer of PCB's and Agent Orange.
Last month I was surrounded by a sea of pink. There were pink shoes for the football teams, pink pens, purses and even pink rubber duckies. It went on and on.
I'm certainly happy that the awareness has increased but I question the motives of the "cause marketing." There should be more transparency and more accountability by the companies that are running their campaigns for breast cancer. Where is the money going? Are they gaining more profits by the sympathetic well-meaning public's purchase of their products? Consumers need to be encouraged to ask critical questions about pink ribbon promotions.
Some interesting postings on Wikipedia:
Business marketing campaigns, particularly sales promotions for products that increase pollution, have been condemned as pinkwashing (a portmanteau of pink ribbon and whitewash). Such promotions generally result in a token donation to a breast cancer-related charity, while exploiting the consumers' fear of cancer and grief for people who have died to drive sales.
San Francisco-based Breast Cancer Action has renamed the annual awareness campaign "Breast Cancer Industry Month" to emphasize the costs of treatment. Their "Think Before You Pink" campaign urges people to "do something besides shop." After explaining that some "pink" sponsors are polluting industrial giants or spend more money on breast cancer-themed advertisements than they actually donate towards research or treatment, BCA asks consumers to reflect thoughtfully on questions like, "How much money was spent marketing the product?" or "What is the company doing to assure that its products are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?" This group has particularly excoriated major cosmetic companies such as Avon, Revlon, and Estée Lauder, which have claimed to promote women's health while simultaneously using known and/or suspected cancer-causing chemicals, such as parabens and phthalates in their products.
I just want to urge people to be cautious and to be looking at and supporting the prevention of this disease whose rates are now 1 in 8.