Pink Ribbon Blues by Gayle Sulik, my review.
Everywhere you look during October, along with the changing color of leaves, there is pink.
And I’m just wondering … Are you feeling blue yet about seeing all that pink?
Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health by Gayle A. Sulik, MA, PhD, is one of the most important books you can get your hands on if you are interested in the current state of breast cancer culture.
It’s a must read. Yes, I said a must read.
Pink Ribbon Blues provides a comprehensive thought-provoking look into the evolution and present status of breast cancer culture in today’s society. It is a real eye-opener and has the potential to change the way you (or the way those you know) look at pink ribbons and maybe even the way you look at breast cancer in general.
It did for me.
The author takes a critical and intelligent look at pink ribbon awareness-raising campaign tactics that have become so entrenched in today’s society. Sulik boldly suggests the pink ribbon culture has turned into a pink ribbon industry, more interested in branding, pink logos and profits than in cures and prevention. She goes on to conclude that while pink ribbon culture has brought breast cancer much needed attention, it may actually have undermined women’s health.
Sulik backs up her observations and claims with eight years of extensive analysis and research.
The pink ribbon industry has been enormously effective in creating emotional allegiance to the cause of breast cancer. It has tapped into the desire we all feel to do something. However, this emotional allegiance also too often leaves those who question the status quo, feeling ungrateful and guilty.
As Sulik states:
With good intentions, pink ribbon culture has made a promise to end breast cancer forever, but somewhere along the line, fighting the good fight has taken precedence over winning the war.
I could not agree more.
Pink Ribbon Blues also contains heart-felt stories from real breast cancer survivors and caregivers who have been in the trenches and struggled to live up to the expected, almost glamorized image of “proper breast cancer fighting behavior.”
Sulik’s voice is one of reason. Her book is evidence based, but at the same time filled with compassion, personal engagement and genuine commitment to bringing about the kind of meaningful dialogue and progress the breast cancer community so desperately needs and deserves.
We must never stop questioning. We must never fear challenging the status quo.
Pink Ribbon Blues does both while also advocating and making suggestions for real and meaningful change.
Sulik sums it up better than I can…
Cancer is not a ribbon, a screening test, or a leisure activity. It is not a sassy t-shirt, a proclamation of survivorship or a gift worth giving. It is a disease process that ignites what is all too often a cycle of medical surveillance and interventions. For too many, it will be the eventual cause of death. They deserve better than this, and so do we.
We don’t have to give up on pink, however as Sulik suggests, it seems it’s time to “take a road less pink.”
That’s what I plan to do.
What about you?
About Gayle Sulik:
Gayle Sulik, MA, PhD, is a social science researcher and writer currently affiliated with the University at Albany (SUNY) Department of Women’s Studies. With expertise in medical sociology and interdisciplinary community research, her scholarship has focused on medical consumerism, technology, cancer survivorship, health policy, and specifically the culture and industry of breast cancer. She is the author of numerous articles, essays, and book chapters on health and medicine and also writes the Pink Ribbon Blues Blog.