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The pink ribbon is an international symbol of breast cancer awareness.

History of the pink ribbon

Arabic: شريط وردي
Urdu: گلابی ربن
Spanish: Lazo Rosa
Filipino: Lasong Rosas
French: Ruban Rose
Italian: Nastro Rosa
Galician: Lazo Vermello
Catalan: Cinta rosa
German: Rosa Schleife
Dutch: Roze Lint
Danish: Lyserøde Sløjfe
Croatian: Ružičasta vrpca
Czech: Růžová stužka
Finnish: Roosa Nauha
Hungarian: Rózsaszín szalag
Norwegian: Rosa Sløyfe
Korean: 핑크리본
Latvian: Rozā lente
Lithuanian: Rožinis kaspinas
Persian: روبان صورتی
Polish: Różowa Wstążka
Portuguese: Fita Rosa
Romanian: Panglica Roz
Russian: Pозовая Лента
Slovak: Ružová stužka
Swedish: Rosa Bandet
Catalan: Llaç Rosa
Turkish: Pembe Kurdele
Japanese: ピンクリボン
Chinese: 粉红丝带
Hebrew: סרט ורוד
Serbian: Ružičasta mašna
Slovenian: Rožnati trak
Ukrainian: Рожева стрічка


Ribbons have been used to express solidarity on the part of the wearer with the identified cause since the early to late 20th Century. Pink Ribbons (and the color pink) are used to express support for women (and men) who are diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

In the fall of 1991, the Susan G. Komen Foundation handed out pink ribbons to participants in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors.

The next year, Alexandra Penney, who was the editor-in-chief of Self, a woman health magazine, was working on the second annual National Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue. Evelyn Lauder, who was the senior corporate vice president at Estée Laudermarker, was invited to be the guest editor of the NBCAM issue edition in 1992. Penney and Lauder came up with the idea to create a ribbon and to enlist the cosmetics giant to distribute it in stores in New York City. Evelyn Lauder then promised to spread the ribbons throughout the entire country, but a color for the ribbon was not yet decided upon.

Charlotte Hayley, who battled breast cancer, produced peach color ribbons. She sold them with a card saying, "The National Cancer Institute annual budget is 1.8 billion US Dollars, and only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon". Her message spread fast. This made Penny and Evelyn Lauder interested in Hayley's concept. They offered to adapt Hayley's idea by working with her. But Hayley rejected the offer, saying that they were too commercial.

After discussing opportunities with Lauder, Hayley and their lawyers, they came up with a "new" color. The new color of the ribbon was pink and became an international symbol for breast cancer awareness.

Products

Each October, hundreds, if not thousands, of products are emblazoned with pink ribbons, colored pink, or otherwise sold with a promise of a small portion of the total cost being donated to support breast cancer awareness or research.

The first breast cancer awareness stamp in the U.S., featuring a pink ribbon, was issued 1996. As it did not sell well, a new stamp with an emphasis on research was designed. The new stamp does not feature the pink ribbon.

In Canada, the Royal Canadian Mint produced a silver commemorative breast cancer coin. 15,000 coins were minted during 2006. On one side of the coin, a portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is illustrated, while on the other side a pink ribbon has been enameled.

Additionally, 30 million 25-cent coins were minted with pink ribbons during 2006 for normal circulation. Designed by the mint's director of engraving, Cosme Saffioti, this colored coin is the second in history to be put into regular circulation.

Intellectual property status

In most jurisdictions, the pink ribbon is considered public domain. However, in Canada, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation claims ownership of the ribbon as an official mark, a special form of trademark reserved for governmental and charitable organizations.

Supporters

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month each October, people raise money by organizing activities such as theme parties or a "pink day" (when employees wear pink clothing or accessories) at work. The money raised is donated to the organizers' choice of breast cancer care or research programs.

Some breast cancer-related organizations, such as Pink Ribbon International, use the pink ribbon as their primary symbol.

Criticism

Promotion of the pink ribbon as a symbol for breast cancer has not been credited with saving any lives. Wearing or displaying a pink ribbon has been denounced as a kind of slacktivism, because it has no practical positive effect.

Business marketing campaigns, particularly sales promotions for products that increase pollution, have been condemned as pinkwashing (a portmanteau of pink ribbon and whitewash). Such promotions generally result in a token donation to a breast cancer-related charity, while exploiting the consumers' fear of cancer and grief for people that have died to drive sales.

Pink Ribbons, Inc

Associate professor of kinesiology and health studies at Queen's Universitymarker Samantha King describes in her 2006 book, Pink Ribbons, Inc: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy how breast cancer has been transformed from a serious disease and individual tragedy to a market-driven industry of survivorship and corporate sales pitch.

King writes that, in an unprecedented outpouring of cause-related marketing, large businesses have turned their formidable promotion machines on the promotion of breast cancer awareness, while also opposing public health efforts (such as stricter environmental legislation) and stifling investigation into why and how breast cancer affects approximately one woman in 10 in the developed world. King questions the legitimacy of privately funded efforts to stop the epidemic among American women and the consistent NBCAM emphasis on screening (such as free mammograms) instead of fundamental research into causes. She also questions the corporate focus on breast cancer, which kills one-tenth as many woman as heart disease, the #1 killer of women. More women get skin cancer than breast cancer, and more women die from lung cancer than breast cancer, she notes, but these other diseases do not attract the same level of corporate -- or consumer -- attention.

Breast Cancer Action

San Francisco-based Breast Cancer Action has renamed the annual awareness campaign "Breast Cancer Industry Month" to emphasize the costs of treatment. Their "Think Before You Pink" campaign urges people to "do something besides shop." After explaining that some "pink" sponsors are polluting industrial giants or spend more money on breast cancer-themed advertisements than they actually donate towards research or treatment, BCA asks consumers to reflect thoughtfully on questions like, "How much money was spent marketing the product?" or "What is the company doing to assure that its products are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?" This group has particularly excoriated major cosmetic companies such as Avon, Revlon, and Estée Laudermarker, which have claimed to promote women's health while simultaneously using known and/or suspected cancer-causing chemicals, such as parabens and phthalates in their products.

Other meanings of the pink ribbon

A pink ribbon is used to tie up a brief for delivery to an English barrister. The pink ribbon in this context is usually described as 'pink tape' or 'legal tape'. Also see 'red tape'.

See also



References

  1. [1]
  2. Landeman, Anne. 11 June 2008. Pinkwashing: Can Shopping Cure Breast Cancer? Center for Media and Democracy.
  3. Description at publisher's website
  4. Ave, Melanie. 06 October 2006. "All may not be in the pink: A pink-powered campaign has raised breast cancer awareness, but has commercialization of it been a healthy effect?" St. Petersburg Times.



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