Dear Sweet Friends and Wicked Smart Readers,
Thank you for being gentle with me and so super supportive since launching this blog. You’ve allowed me to share my story. You’ve cheered me on through training for a marathon before my mastectomy. You’ve joined my efforts to raise awareness on Breast Cancer Prevention. And you’ve even looked into Bright Pink and all the amazing work it does. Together we feel proud to support the only non-profit organization making strides toward Breast and Ovarian Cancer Prevention! You have been nothing short of spectacular. I’m honestly eternally grateful for the opportunity to express my passion for health and making a difference in our health choices. I am pledging to write more frequently, so we can discuss what we put in our bodies, on our bodies and things we can do to make our world a healthier place, so together we can live our best lives.
With that said, next month tends to make me a little crazy. I know I claimed to be unapologetic, but I do need to apologize for the negative tone of this post. But after thinking long and hard, this needs to be said. So let me just get this off my chest; I HATE BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH. The inescapable pink ribbon leaves me feeling suffocated. Each and every year, I dread October with an fiery pink passion. That’s right. I HATE the pink sh*t evolving around Breast Cancer Awareness Month, formally known as October. Some refer to this movement as “pink washing”, the way we have branded breast cancer, but don’t quite understand what the agenda is behind the marketing. You might be thinking to yourself, “Who is this beast and why does she hate next month so much? Shouldn’t she support the pink ribbon movement?” Allow me to get my b*tchface on and explain my Pink Ribbon Blues. WARNING: I scream at the TV, curse at products on shelves, and have no problem exclaiming that no, I don’t think your ‘save second base’ campaign is cute because you are objectifying a serious situation, WHILE ACTUALLY ONLY GIVING A SMALL PERCENTAGE TO THE CHARITY YOU CLAIM TO BE HELPING! This is a topic I tend to get fired up about and hope we as consumers can start to make a difference in the way we pink!
I often daydream about going into your local grocery chain, hanging from the shelves like King Kong in the dairy aisle. One by one, ripping the smug pink lids off of the non-fat aspartame loaded yogurts and spiking them while screaming “THESE INGREDIENTS CAUSE CANCER. THESE HYPOCRITICAL GREEDY BASTARDS ARE JUST PULLING ON YOUR HEART STRINGS TO MAKE A QUICK BUCK. DOWN WITH CORPORATE AMERICA! AHHHH!” Don’t worry- I’m in therapy. Everyone is safe and no yogurts were harmed while writing this post. My nearest and dearest know and fully expect me to go on a tirade each October. They allow me to become one cynical son of b*tch all month long. (Don’t eye roll just yet, please keep reading). And this year, I’m asking you to be cynical with me! I mean, don’t get arrested at the grocery store or end up on the 5 o’clock news, but please make some educated decisions on where you spend your money. We as consumers are mighty powerful.
I’m not going to lie, initially, I felt really nervous about publishing this post because I wasn’t sure I wanted to share how much I truly despise October. I was afraid you’ll think I’m just an angry individual, overthinking and over-processing my reality. I’m still not sure how this post will be received. But before I really start voicing my incredibly strong opinion, I want to be gentle to my friends with breast cancer, survivors, and their families that feel empowered by pink. I am not saying the pink ribbon movement itself is horrible. I admire the history behind the movement, but detest the commercialized machine it has become. If it weren’t for the initial pioneers of the breast cancer movement, my health experience, level of education on breast health and ability to take action would not exist. I guess my goal here is to get you to look into the agenda of the organization behind the pink ribbon you are giving your hard earned dollars to. I know you all mean well. But please, don’t just buy something because it has a pink ribbon on it. Look into the agenda behind the organizations you give to. Is their agenda the eradication of breast cancer? What is this organization promising to do? What percentage of their funds raised are going into breast cancer research, preventive measures and treatments? If the agenda is straight up awareness, what is it making you aware of? Is this awareness or just brand visibility? At this point in time, we are all aware breast cancer exists. I think it’s time to reevaluate the movement, set new goals, and find new ways to attain them.
Aside from the branding of a disease, the pink ribbon symbolizes a lot of things. I’m not a monster. I can see the pink ribbon as expressions of solidarity and concern. I understand pink can be the indication of support and community. I also see the pink ribbon as a badge of courage for the afflicted. I fully comprehend the magnitude of the pink ribbon movement. While some survivors are bothered by the color in itself, because pink is cheery while breast cancer is not. Pink isn’t the problem for me. I actually love the cheeriness factor. Why not feel lifted up when you are down? But when it is absolutely everywhere, I’m sure it feels a bit much. My frustration is aimed toward the sneaky way marketers are enticing you to purchase something to show your support, when their brand is not entirely forthcoming with their intentions. In my ideal October, I wish the momentum were to swing less toward retail and more toward discussions like “Oh that lipstick being sold claiming to help find a cure… yeah, what chemicals known to disrupt my hormones are you suggesting I apply to my lips everyday?” (cough, cough Estee Lauder cough, cough). I wish the discussions were geared toward what we as individuals can do to prevent the disease from even occurring. In my opinion, the “awareness” campaign has become narrowed into “visibility” and that’s where the current movement is now failing. Cancer is complicated. There is not one way to treat, diagnose, or prevent cancer. But maybe we can start standing up to these major corporations and say “Hey, I’m not down with known cancer causing carcinogens to be used as main ingredients in your products while you claim to support the fight against cancer”. We don’t have all the answers. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look into the agenda behind the organizations behind the pink ribbon. We need to understand their mission statements and long term goals. We need to see transparency before we throw money anywhere. I truly hope with time, we as consumers can say “enough is enough”. I have complete faith together we can make educated decisions t0 spark change.
As you can tell, I am utterly disgusted when corporations and companies attempt to capitalize on breast cancer. THIS IS A POTENTIALLY FATAL AND VERY SERIOUS DISEASE THAT EFFECT ONE IN EIGHT WOMEN. But hey, only in America can we claim to be socially responsible, slap a pink ribbon on an item, sell it at a higher price point while actually not doing a damn thing for women with breast cancer. And aside from the retail scam surrounding the pink ribbon, I find the fraternity level boob humor repulsive. As a woman about to undergo mastectomy, “Save the Tata’s” feels like a punch in the stomach. I get the attempt to use humor as a marketing tool, but let’s realize it is more important to save a woman and let’s not just reduce her to her breasts. Because this statement to me says “Save her breasts, that’s most important”. It’s insensitive and disgusting. Removing breasts is part of breast cancer treatment for many women. The objectification of women while battling a disease is sickening to me. Have you seen PornHub.com’s campaign? Go google pornhub’s breast cancer campaign. Really? Donating one penny for every 30 views of it’s “small tits” and “big tits” videos to the Susan. G. Koman Foundation. Ohhhh click away. Do your part to really save those titties. BARF. And despite what you may think, it’s not the porn part that bothers me. I don’t need to explain to you why I think this is so gross and unacceptable though.
But if you must know, the one organization that really turns me upside-down and inside-out is the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Initially, you might say, “But Kristina, this is one of the largest breast cancer organizations!” And I’m almost positive, when you think of breast cancer organizations, Susan G. Komen is one of the firsts that comes to mind. While I won’t deny that sh*t-tons of money has been given to this organization, the percentage of money received versus money given to research makes me sick. Check out how much the Susan G. Komen Foundation spends a year suing other non-profits for using the term “for the cure”. While we can all try and see the good in every organization, the Susan G. Komen Foundation is far from spotless despite having such a high profile name.
The Komen culture is also something I will never support. It’s the fact that it does not directly help one single woman with breast cancer, yet is regarded as THE organization for breast cancer. If someone with breast cancer or a survivor can tell me how the Susan G. Komen Foundation directly and individually helped them during their diagnosis, treatment or remission… I’d greatly appreciate it. I’m encouraging you to do your own research on this organization. I think you’ll be surprised. The Pink Ribbon culture that the Susan G. Komen Foundation supports is “Don’t be furious, depressed or enraged at your diagnosis… instead buy a bunch of pink sh*t to line the pockets of many high level executives. And hey… tell your friends and family to buy all that pink sh*t too.”
I know this post is one longwinded rant. I know you can tell I get tickled pink over this topic. So get ready to think twice next month because every single store you shop at will ask you if you want to donate a $1 to some variation of the pink ribbon. We’ve all been guilty before of giving a buck when put under pressure. But for the love of God, this October, do something better for breast cancer. Do your research. Don’t just go buying pink sh*t. Don’t just cave in and give $1 each time you shop because the sales clerk looks at you like you are Satan if you politely say no thank you. That isn’t to say don’t give at all. Being generous and helping to provide to organizations you believe in is a wonderful thing. There are still plenty of amazing organizations making a difference in the fight against breast cancer. This pink washing has been going on for far too long. Look at mission statements and finances before you make a donation.
And maybe this October you aren’t able to make a financial contribution. Help the movement by reaching out to that friend you have on Facebook that has been through a lot. Ask her where her favorite restaurant is and send her dinner. When the dust settles after a diagnosis, women still need support. Remember that survivor you told me to run in honor of? Send her a surprise gift card to treat her this October. Contact your local breast cancer resource center to see if they need volunteers to help patients undergoing treatment. Step out of your comfort zone this Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But please, think before you pink.
I know there are lots of good intentions out there. I really appreciate them. But we are so much smarter than the marketers realize. Let’s make a change this year together. Thank you for letting me vent. And we can still be friends if after reading this you are still inclined to support certain organizations. No organization is 100% awful, some are just better than others. Just please don’t wear your “save the tatas” shirt in front of me.
Oh and if after this post you are wondering… my goodness Kristina “Who can I support this Breast Cancer Awareness Month?” It’s taken me years to find an organization I feel so proud of. Donate to BRIGHT PINK!