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Make That 13 Things Wrong with the Pink Ribbon!

Make that 13 things wrong with the pink ribbon!

Often I can’t think quickly on my feet, so I find this list to be handy when people ask me what’s wrong with pink ribbons (and they do). No matter what your thinking speed might be, it’s nice to have some specific responses ready to go, so this is why I’m sharing this condensed version with you. For my original list of 10 Things Wrong with the Pink Ribbon, click here.

Be sure to share your thoughts on these 13 things and/or add any others you think are missing. And yes, if you think there’s nothing wrong with pink ribbons, I want to hear from you too.

13 Things Wrong with the Pink Ribbon!

1. The pink ribbon has morphed into mostly a marketing tool to sell stuff and lots of it.

2.  The pink ribbon is used to sell image as well as products. Talk about bang for your buck, I mean ribbon.

3.  Pink ribbons are often misleading regarding dollar amounts being spent on breast cancer anything.

4.  Sometimes pink ribbons are selling questionable, even possibly cancer causing products. (also known as pinkwashing)

5.  Pink ribbons dress up breast cancer often times giving a skewed misrepresentation of this deadly disease. We must never “dress up” the fact that 41,000 women and men die annually from mbc in the US alone. 

6.  Pink ribbons exclude the men who can and do get breast cancer too.

7.  Pink ribbons are entangled with intangibles such as:  faith, hope and courage. No, I’m not opposed to these things just the entanglement because they crowd out other genuine feelings like fear, anger and uncertainty.

8.  The pink ribbon has turned into the bully of ribbons. Yep, it has!

9.  The pink ribbon has too many ties with blatantly sexist breast cancer awareness campaigns. Look around.

10. The results from all this ribboning have not been good enough – unless perhaps you’re selling pink stuff.

11. Another problem with the pink ribbon is how divisive it has become. Sometimes it seems as if there are two sides in breast cancer land, the pink ribbon side and the non-pink ribbon side. Again, I’m not opposed to pink or pink ribbons. I am opposed to overuse and misuse. Big difference. Enough with the ribbons! I hope we can all focus on the same goals. Collaboration is sorely needed. Let’s focus on that!

12.  Individuals dealing with metastatic disease often feel shut out by all that pink and all those ribbons. I hear this over and over, so even if folks in the land of pink ribbons don’t believe this is true, it still is. Believe them!

 13.  Another addition to my list this year is that too often this “pink ribbon entanglement” over-simplifies breast cancer by contributing to the illusion that it isn’t that bad anymore. One example – inflammatory breast cancer is pretty much left out of the awareness conversations. Why? Because it’s rare and anything but simple. Another example – buy something with a pink ribbon and you’ve done your part. Again, way too simple and not the answer.

So there you have it, my updated list of what’s wrong the pink ribbon. I’ve probably still only scratched the surface.

Now, I’m secretly hoping someone asks you what’s wrong with pink ribbons. If they do, I hope this list helps!

To grab a copy of my FREE ebook, Pink Is Just a Color, Ribbons Are Just Ribbons: A collection of writings about Pinktober shenanigans, Click Here.

If you like this post, please share it! Thank you.

What would you add to the list?

Which one(s) do you find most troubling?

Have you ever been asked, what’s wrong with pink ribbons? If so, what do you say?

Make that 13 Things Wrong with the Pink Ribbon #pinkribbon #breastcancer #breastcancerawarenessmonth

Joan Hane

Tuesday 4th of February 2020

As a woman that has Stage IV lung cancer ( no I was not a smoker nor did I do drugs) the pink campaign is extremely commercialized. Lung cancer is the number 1 cancer that both women and men die from. And yet it is over shadowed by breast cancer with the majority of society not being aware of the fact that other cancers exist. Your 13 points on the pink ribbon campaign is spot on. Thanks


Thursday 6th of February 2020

Joan, You're most welcome. I appreciate your feedback.


Thursday 30th of January 2020

Mank again I love this space Nancy just everything about this I can't thank you enough.

Rhonda schmidt

Saturday 28th of November 2015

The pink campaign makes me depressed because I'm not happy and smiling. It doesn't reflect the horrendous effects of chemotherapy. I think there must be some upsides, since it seems to help some. Maybe it should be directed more toward helping people struggling with insurance or time off from work. Throwing money at is isn't helping :(


Saturday 10th of October 2015

I would add to the list that cancer does not respond to awareness, organizing or celebrities.

And sometimes I think the pink ribbon is an attention hog - women, and men, die of plenty of other kinds of cancers.

I also think there's such a thing as tunnel vision - if we throw enough money at breast cancer researchers, a cure will be forthcoming. I would not be surprised if the cure (or cures - or even turn-it-from-death-sentence-to-chronic-management) might come, not necessarily from breast cancer research, but from some other area of biological research - maybe lymph cancers, or prostate cancer or genetics or epigenetics or some discovery we cannot yet imagine.


Thursday 25th of June 2015

I think more funds goes to operations than treating the cancer patients.

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