Science and Journalism in Society

Brandeis University JOUR 130B

October done right? or wrong?

Think Before you Pink– Stop the Distraction

                How do you feel in October when all of your community is ‘pinkwashed’? I used to feel informed and proud to be in the presence of so many symbols of thriving life, awareness and productive research. After reading the article, Think Before you Pink– Stop the Distraction, I now feel angered by the whole sham behind the pink products. Author Karuna Jaggar asks, “what have all these pink ribbon products and promotions done for women living with and at risk of breast cancer?” It disgusts me to learn that what started as a means for creating awareness has turned into a “pink ribbon culture” which piles in the bills for marketing giants who don’t put it towards the use you would expect. The goal of purchasing that extra tote with a pink ribbon on it is not to put dollars in the pockets of marketing companies; it’s not even to create more ‘awareness;’ it is to create action. I just always assumed that paying extra for the pink items in October meant that research was being funded, but unfortunately, in most situations, this is not the case. More often than not, “companies sell products, make profits, and seek customer goodwill by claiming to care about breast cancer.” They are so successful in their profits because they rely on people’s goodwill. Nowhere is the fine print of where the money goes ever offered or discussed publicly. Here is the most outrageous part of the whole bogus pinkwashing: some companies use the popularity of the pink ribbon to sell products which are actually linked to the cause of breast cancer itself! For example, Alhambra Water “is pinkwashing by selling plastic polycarbonate water bottles which contain BPA, a hormone-disrupting chemical linked to breast cancer – while claiming to care about (and profiting from) breast cancer.” How’s that for an oxymoron? Clearly, many industries have used pinkwashing as a tactic to take advantage of people’s altruism and charity to selfishly benefit only themselves. So, next October (or whenever you feel like donating to breast cancer action), make sure to do your own research and find out where exactly your money will end up.

1 Comment

  1. This is a strong argument and I like your passion. I feel it through your writing and that’s good for this kind of piece. With all these stories surfacing on charities spending lavishly on themselves, I wonder what the data on “pinkwashing” says? This story could benefit from some hard numbers so that people don’t just turn away when they see how strongly written it is.

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