Pinkification pukification here we come. Yes tomorrow marks the onslaught of putrid pink things because you know breast cancer is so pink and frothy and light, right? Like fuzzy bunnies, Barbie, and cotton candy,right?
I hate #pinktober. The world gets coated with a putrid pig pinkness designed by marketing gurus to make a buck or two off of breast cancer. And how much actually goes back to true breast cancer research, education, and funding for women who need financial assistance during treatment? The answer is not much compared to percentage of profits and isn’t that true?
Someone said to me today that they worry there will never be a cure for breast cancer because marketing and advertising folks would never allow it. Yes, it was jaded and tongue in cheek but seriously, do you need your greasy take out chicken in a pink bucket? Does your cheap liquor taste better with a pink label? And does pink plastic nonsense make recycling more fun?
Already the hyper-sexualized images of big boobs peeking out of pink and white and just pink bras are popping up. Gee do we think the models are actual survivors?
When discussing the onslaught of Pinktober already in September a friend and survivor said to me:
“I think you have touched on something very important… I remember feeling left out of all the pink activities even while I was in the battle phase … Then there are folks that make doing the big walk sound like a bigger deal than having the disease ( trust me I am grateful) folks want to raise money and educate .. ) finally , I feel like people have heard so much about breast cancer that there is a “well it’s just breast cancer” feeling out there – the context now seems as if it is missing ; understanding of treatment and risk is missing. People who are planning these events should make an effort to know what helps and what hurts.”
One thing this year I am more conscious of is the marketing of Pinktober in schools. And it seems less about real breast health education and awareness and true fundraising and more about pink spirit wear.
I noticed this at my own kid’s school when the school’s publicist posted something in a school group page about a pink dress down day.
Her message said in part:
There will be a school-wide PINK $1 Dress Down Day on Thursday, October 2nd. For $1, Staff & Students may wear pink shirts in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month….Students MUST wear khaki bottoms with their pink tops….Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Temporary Tattoos will be on sale for $1 in the main office beginning October 1st….We believe that education is the key to increasing knowledge about breast cancer and fundraising is essential to support further research. Please consider donating to our campaign
I am all for increasing knowledge, raising awareness , breast health education and so on, but where is that here? They have some charity they are partnering with which is based out of the Washington DC and Virginia area but I can’t see where any money raised here is actually going to go. And when I pulled up the charity’s 990 I found yes they are a real non- profit, but wow, what huge overhead!
The problem I have with supporting some of these types of organizations which are often not local to where you live includes their overhead. I applaud anyone wanting to make the world a better place, but as a survivor, I have to say again there are several fine breast cancer charities to get involved with. And these are people that give money to research, education, low-cost mammograms, and so on.
Maybe I am too serious for all of you when it comes to things #pinktober but as someone who had the surgery, the treatment, and who lives on breast cancer meds , I am VERY sensitive to the charities and what they do.
All I am saying is consider charities in the future that are a little more educational. Education is very key to battling breast cancer. What schools are doing is nice, it brings people together, they wear pink clothes but what have their students actually learned that can help keep them and family members healthy?
Breast cancer is serious stuff and serious business for pink themed marketing campaigns. Every year I find myself slightly aghast at all of the pink gear….especially when the articles come out regarding the fine print of what actually goes to education, research, and so on….versus profits and pink themed expenses and overhead.
I think if we are going to teach the future generations, educating them beyond what goes with pink is kind of important.
This is why, once again as Pinktober is about to puketober all over us I am going to mention Taking Care of Your Girls a website and book by my radiation oncologist Dr. Marisa Weiss.
This is the kind of stuff we should be educating with, not pink soup, pink fried chicken, pink temporary tattoos, and cutesy pink spirit wear. We owe the future generations more than that.
I will close with an article from the Wall Street Journal a few years ago which understands why the right kind of education on breast cancer is important:
WALL STREET JOURNAL: HEALTH JOURNAL Girl Talk: Early Education Eases Fears of Breast Cancer
Updated Sept. 2, 2008 11:59 p.m. ET
Two years ago, when she was nine, Jamie Margulies noticed a lump on the left side of her chest, behind her nipple. She was scared, since her mom had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. “I thought that since she had breast cancer, I would definitely get it,” says Jamie, a 6th-grader who lives in Gladwyne, Pa.
To reassure her daughter, Jamie’s mother took her to see her oncologist. The doctor examined her and set her mind at rest: The lump was not a cancer, but a breast bud — a sign that her breasts were starting to grow.
“That made me feel a lot better,” Jamie says.
Her doctor, Marisa Weiss, says she has witnessed a growing fear of breast cancer among young girls, as information about the disease permeates the media. She also has noticed that girls are either uninformed or misinformed about breast health.
“They are still young girls, without the dialogue skills to ask the questions, air their concerns and replace the myths with facts,” says Dr. Weiss, director of breast radiation oncology at Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood, Pa., and founder of Breastcancer.org, a nonprofit educational organization.
Together with her teenage daughter, Isabel Friedman, Dr. Weiss co-wrote a new book “Taking Care of Your ‘Girls’ “, which hits stores today. Written for girls and teenagers, it offers information on topics such as breast development and size, choosing a bra, how to stand up to teasing and what healthy foods to eat during this time of growth. Throughout the book, Ms. Friedman, who is 18, gives advice and tells stories from a peer-to-peer perspective.
Dr. Weiss’s book is an extension of an educational program that she and her daughter have been presenting in schools to girls in grades 5 through 12 and their mothers. ……Dr. Weiss then gives the girls medical information. She explains that breast cancer is exceedingly rare in girls under 20 and that only one in 10 cases of breast cancer is thought to be due to an inherited genetic abnormality. She describes the steps girls can take to reduce the risk of getting the disease, such as keeping a healthy weight, exercising and not smoking. She also advises them to maintain a healthy diet, including limiting consumption of red meat and fried foods.
It’s especially important that girls receive this information at ages eight to 18, she says. “That’s when they are using food, water, beverages and the air they breathe as building blocks for breast tissue. They are laying down the foundation for future breast health.”
…..Information about breast health and breast cancer can be found at http://www.breastcancer.org, and people can ask their own questions at http://www.takingcareofyourgirls.com/main/contact.html.
Ladies and gents…please…think before you pink.
Oh, you are so right! Having spent this past year dealing with a very similar treatment to yours, I am really tired of the whole pink thing and being barraged constantly with Awareness. The other day my 15-year old asked me if I wasn’t getting tired of seeing it everywhere. I am! It’s as if having breast cancer is now cool. Meanwhile, my family is struggling with the disease and a whole lot of harsh realities. My two chosen charities are the Canadian Cancer Society and the Breast Cancer Society of Canada. They fund hospitals for research, treatment, and management. I’ll stick with them, thanks.
I couldn’t agree more and I just posted a similar rant on my Facebook (Julie Fields). I can’t stand the pink invasion.
While purchasing items to sell for non-profit fund-raising, I was irritated when I realized some of the vendors were .com, not .org.
In case anyone is unaware of this, a REAL NON-PROFIT will have a domain name ending in org.
Some organizations are better than others if you want to make donations to the cause. We have a local, non-profit for our county called “Marathon for a Better Life”.
They do a marathon day, of course, and include a “Caregivers Lap”, where care-givers of cancer patients or survivors are recognized for their role.
The thing I like best about MFABL is their simple approach to distribution of their finances. Cancer patients currently undergoing treatment can contact them (or be nominated) and they simply send the cash to the patient and/or their family. (usually a $1000 check, followed by another if needed.)
Personally, I think this is a great use for funds, giving it directly to people in the trenches to help out in any way they need it.
As a male that has never had cancer, I have no authority to speak to the subject directly, but in the vein of this post I will express my disappointment that breast cancer is singled out for all the awareness-raising (or commercial hoopla, as some feel.).
There are many, many types of cancer, and many types of victims. Though I am a spouse (and former care-giver) of a breast cancer survivor, when it comes to financial support in the fight against cancer I have chosen St.Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee. (www.stjude.org)
Rather than choose a single type of cancer to give to, contributions to St.Jude’s are used for research as well as treatment of childhood cancer patients.
St.Jude never charges a penny to the family of a childhood cancer patient.
Whenever I think of charitable giving, my thought comes back to those kids in Memphis. We congratulate one another for another year of survival. We support one another through the process and after. Too many good folks are doing too many good things for me to list examples here. However, I am haunted at every turn, every day, that there are children whose biggest hope is to live until Christmas.
Be at peace,
I came across your site looking for more information on pinktober. My mom is a breast cancer survivor so I wanted to do something to raise awareness at a running race that I am planning to attend. So the idea was to dress up in pink (I am a male) and distribute some pink bracelets.
Now I feel uneasy about doing it. Would it be perceived as insensitive and in bad taste?
OK this is just my opinion. I don’t like pinkTober. I pretty much hate it. But if you are participating in some kind of a race or marathon that doesn’t have anything to do with pinkTober but you want to honor your mom I think that’s really nice.
What I would let be your guide is not me and other survivors but how your mother, the breast cancer survivor you are connected to feels about it. Ask your mom how she feels. The difference is you are doing that for her.
This race is unrelated to pinktober except that it is happening during the month of October.
You are making a good point about talking to my mom about it.
Thank you for sharing your perspective.
For our loved ones it can be really hard watching us go thru this. Knowing you are loved through this is very important. And our loved ones can feel very helpless. It’s a hard betwixt and between to be a family member of a breast cancer victim. And if your race has nothing to do with pinkTober that is actually kind of cool you want to do that. But again, talk to her. You also might wish to see if there is something you can do together to honor her as a survivor. Let me know how it all turns out
I have wanted to participate in a pinktober event for some time, but then have found this other side of the story and dropped it.
I still want to raise awareness in a way that would bring larger percentage of money for actual research and treatment compared to the pinktober commercialized events.
The idea that I came about is to go for a shock effect to make people want to talk to me instead of just being a guy with stickers or pamphlets. Dressing in pink (including a tutu LOL) might have that effect. But I also don’t want to be the jerk to cause a survivor or someone who may have lost a loved one to cancer to relive painful memories.
Now I doubt myself. Talking to my mom is somewhat separate issue as she won’t attend that race.
Lots of survivors won’t go to races – it just is the nature of survivorship sometimes- a lot of women won’t talk about it either.
Don’t doubt yourself. Be true to your ideals. A pink tutu won’t upset anyone and sounds like fun!
Thank you for your encouraging words! Wishing you all the best in your life journey.