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Pink ploy? Breast cancer charity motives doubted
Question of the Day
PITTSBURGH (AP) - The country is awash in pink for breast cancer awareness month _ and some women are sick of it.
While no one is questioning the need to fight the deadly disease, some breast cancer advocates are starting to ask whether one of the most successful charity campaigns in recent history has lost its focus.
“The pink drives me nuts,” said Cynthia Ryan, an 18-year survivor of breast cancer who also volunteers to help other women with the disease. “It’s the cheeriness I can’t stand.”
Activists have even coined a new word: pinkwashing.
They say that’s when a company or organization does a pink breast cancer promotion, but at the same time sells and profits from pink-theme products.
Some of the pink products have generated plenty of discussion among breast cancer advocates.
A Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun with pink pistol grip? The manufacturer says a “Portion of the Proceeds Will Be Donated to a Breast Cancer Awareness Charity.”
You can get the “Pink Ribbon Combo” at Jersey Mike’s Subs, or the Sephora Collection Pink Eyelash Curler. One year, there was a pink bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
She said there’s no doubt that when the pink ribbon campaigns started about 20 years ago there was still a great need to raise awareness.
“At one time, pink was the means,” Jaggar said. “Now, it’s almost become the end in itself. In its most simplistic forms, pink has become a distraction. You put a pink ribbon on it, people stop asking questions.”
Breast cancer activists agree that the use of a ribbon to promote awareness evolved in stages. They note that in 1979 there were yellow ribbons for the American hostages in Iran; in 1990, AIDS activists used red ribbons to call attention to victims of that disease; and 1991 saw the first major use of the pink ribbon, when the Susan G. Komen Foundation gave them out at a New York City race for cancer survivors.
But the ribbon symbol may tie into a far older tradition, according to the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress. It notes that various versions of the song “Round Her Neck She Wore A Yellow Ribbon” have been popular for 400 years, all with the theme of displaying the ribbon for an absent loved one.
And it’s clear that too many loved ones are still lost to the disease, despite many advances in diagnosis and treatment. The National Cancer Institute estimates that about 40,000 women will die of breast cancer this year, and 230,000 new cases will be diagnosed.
By Michael P. Orsi
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