My discontent with Pinktober (Breast Cancer Awareness Month) is not about the color pink or pink ribbons at all. It goes much deeper than that. I actually love pink. I’ve been writing about this stuff for years now, as have many others. I don’t know about you, but I seem to be seeing less pink nonsense this October. But clearly, we still have work to do. Lots of work.
As I see it, there are three major prongs to Pinktober’s (and beyond) problems. Pinktober shenanigans have leeched out into other months as well. For instance, there’s the annual Twin Cities Mother’s Day Race for the Cure®. Yep, May is BCAM Part 2.
As I see things, there are three major prongs to Pinktober’s problems:
1. Marketing Tactics
The pink ribbon morphed into a far more successful marketing tool than anyone could’ve ever imagined. For years now, everyone’s been hopping onto the pink ribbon bandwagon in order to sell stuff and lots of it. If you can eat it, drink it, wear it, bake with it, play with it, hammer with it, even put your trash in it, there’s likely a pink version of such a product waiting for your purchase at your local retailer.
The pink ribbon’s been a marketing goldmine. Pink ribbons are used to increase profits as well as a corporation’s image. Talk about bang for your buck, I mean ribbon!
Questions and observations I keep coming back to…
Why aren’t we shopping to support prostate (or insert any other type) cancer awareness?
What has all this marketing/shopping resulted in regarding improving and saving lives?
The number of deaths (41,000 per year in the US alone) to metastatic breast cancer has not changed in years. Unacceptable.
Before buying pink/pink ribbon stuff, people need to ask questions such as:
Do any $$$ go to support breast cancer programs or research of any sort?
If so, exactly how much, what programs, what research?
What organization gets the $$$ and what will it do with the money?
Is there a cap on how much is donated? (If there is a cap, the rest might be used to line pockets.)
Think Before You Pink is an initiative from Breast Cancer Action, a great site to check out and to support, btw.
2. Trivializing a still too often deadly disease AND objectifying women’s bodies are both wrong.
In some ways, this bothers me even more than the shopping nonsense. Trivializing breast cancer adds to the illusion that breast cancer is the good cancer. It’s not. It’s horrible. All cancer is. The crazy hoopla and events often generate an almost party-like atmosphere. Walks, races, pink boas, crazy foods shaped into breasts, rocks painted to look like breasts, an unending sea of pink merchandise, and on and on. Too often, it’s over the top. Way over.
It might not seem like any one of these things by itself is all that bad, but when you start to add them all up, it’s pink overload.
In a sense, the pink ribbon has become the Bully of Ribbons. There is resentment out there from other cancer groups. Don’t believe me. Ask around.
Again, always ask yourself and others if buying that pink mixer or biting into that doughnut with pink frosting and pink sprinkles on top is doing anything to save/improve lives.
OBJECTIFYING – When we see t-shirts with sassy slogans about saving, feeling, grabbing tatas, boobies, honkers, hooters, melons and the like, it demeans and objectifies women. You’d think we’d be way past this in 2018, but we’re not. The excuse that we’re just “lightening things up” for the younger crowd that usually gets tossed around, doesn’t cut it. Total BS.
Such messaging distracts from the serious business of saving lives. It’s time to STOP trivializing a still too often deadly disease.
And remember, men get breast cancer too. How do you think all this makes them feel?
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.
3. There’s been a failure to move beyond awareness and overly-simplistic messaging.
- Who isn’t aware, in this part of the world anyway?
- We need to move beyond basic awareness.
- We need complete messaging – it’s not all about early detection and mammograms.
- 20-30% breast cancers will metastasize regardless of stage at diagnosis. Sure, early detection is a good thing, but it’s not the complete story.
- We must include the faces and stories of those living with metastatic breast cancer. I repeat, we MUST.
- It’s shocking how many people are not even aware what metastatic breast cancer means.
- This is a colossal failure of BCAM is it not? How can the group in most need be left out?
- Focus should be on researching everything about metastasis – how to prevent it, slow it down, stop it, how/why it happens in the first place.
- We need to focus on extending and improving QOL for those enduring life-long treatment for metastatic disease.
- The group in greatest need should be getting the most support and this has not been the case. Women and men with metastatic breast cancer tell me all the time they feel excluded. Unacceptable.
There are plenty of things we can all do!
Read my blog. Read my memoir. I refuse to sugarcoat!
Read what others write. Listen to what others say.
Educate yourself about the FULL spectrum of this disease.
Donate to reputable charities/sites whose values align with yours.
This October (and beyond) ask yourself and encourage others to ask, is this helping to save/improve lives?
Because 41,000 women and men are still dying from metastatic breast cancer every single year in the US alone.
We need to do better. We must do better.
If you feel this post has value, please share it. Thank you.
How do you feel about Breast Cancer Awareness Month this year?
Which prong do you feel is most problematic?