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“Think Before You Pink”: Does wearing pink help the cause?

“Think Before You Pink”: Does wearing pink help the cause?

The month of October is known for many commemorative dates such as Halloween, National Boyfriend Day, and Breast Cancer Awareness month. So while you get to see spooky movies, you also may have been surrounded with endless amounts of pink in every corner. Why the pink? To show awareness for breast cancer victims, of course. However, what good does that actually do for people affected by breast cancer?

From the start to the end of the month, people will wear pink as a way to visibly show support for those in any stage of breast cancer. Others will visibly and physically show their encouragement. There are a number of organizations that host fundraising events that are true to their word such as “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” that organizes walks for charity. Companies may also sell products and donate a portion to research funds. While charity events are for a good cause, what does simply just wearing pink actually do?


Now, I’m not at all saying you can’t wear pink or the pink ribbon or participate in events. The pink ribbon itself actually was created for the purpose of showing awareness according to the American Cancer Society. I’m not holding an expectation for anyone to save their money and donate to organizations. No one is responsible for funding the studies.

However, there are 12 months out of the year, and companies, public figures and people only choose to shed light on the topic in October, a situation that has been called “Pinkwashing.” Pinkwashing is an example of companies taking advantage of a cause just as a way to make more money. This is an issue I care deeply about, because it’s something that has affected me personally.

The term “pinkwashing” was created in 2002 by Breast Cancer Action to describe the marketing tactic in which companies doll up their products in pink and ribbons and tell their audience they’re against the disease. Another way to properly categorize pinkwashing is when companies get you to buy their products because they claim a percentage of funds will be donated.

For example, back in 2010, KFC locations sold pink buckets containing grilled chicken. While the idea sounds good, grilled chicken contains a lot of sodium. The American Cancer Society states on its website in the Food and Fitness section, “Being overweight or obese increases the risk of several cancers, including cancers of the breast (among women past menopause)…” This is a factor in many health issues because obesity and high blood pressure are also linked to the risk of breast cancer, according to Univeristy of York.

Marion Nestle, who maintains the website, was critical of KFC’s pink bucket strategy, and in that CNN article stated, “The goals of food companies, alas, are not the same as the goals of public health. Food companies are businesses that must sell expanding numbers of products. While it seems possible that their goals and those of public health could overlap, they rarely do. Buckets for the Cure gets money for whatever it does. KFC sells more buckets. Sounds good, if you don’t think about it too much.”

Some may argue this was way back in 2010, and even that none of their food is really all that healthy, the fact that they were donating was good. But really, it’s the hypocrisy of selling “Buckets for the cure”, while the food itself is harmful for health. Companies like KFC selling pink buckets isn’t the issue, the problem shows up when those products lead to the cancer they’re raising awareness about. Individual people’s purchases didn’t increase the donation size, it was how many buckets each store ordered.


[Caption: KFC partnered with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer research organization in 2010. They faced criticism because their food is high in sodium and leads to health issues.] Courtesy of Google

It was more of the agenda, not the specific cause itself. Just like all these “Buy our pink products.”

There are so many better ways to show your support. If you know someone who is personally affected by this disease, show your kindness and support to them. If you’re religious, pray for the sick. Pray for the people who are affected by this deadly disease.

Acts of service and educating yourself about the disease help more than mindlessly buying products from companies who pinkwash one month out of the year.


Click this breast cancer resource link tree with multiple resources you can use to educate yourself on breast cancer myths, early detection, etc.


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