Our Bodies, Our Blog

Raise a Stink! – Send a Letter Against Pinkwashing

By Rachel Walden |

Pinkwashing is the selling of potentially harmful or cancer-causing products through pink ribbon promotions, many of which were active in October, which is national breast cancer awareness month.

Breast Cancer Action is running their “Raise a Stink!” campaign in response to concerns about one particular product, the “Promise Me” perfume marketed by Komen. BCA raised concerns that some ingredients in the product could be potential carcinogens, and objected to the small amount of money donated for each bottle of perfume.

Komen released a statement saying that its ingredients meet industry standards and applicable FDA guidelines, but the organization apparently plans to reformulate the perfume next year.

The FDA does not require cosmetic products to be tested and approved before they go on the market, and relies on voluntary industry disclosures of ingredients.

BCA also published a list of additional questions after reviewing Komen’s response, and is asking supporters to send a letter to Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s CEO, Chief Marketing Officer, and Vice President to request removal of the perfume from the market. BCA is also asking Komen to more carefully evaluate which products are marketed with pink ribbon promotions.

Exploring Pinkwashing: Questioning the Wisdom of Buying for a Cure

By Rachel Walden |

A new article in the journal Environmental Justice provides a compelling overview of a topic we have covered several times here – pinkwashing, or the pink-drenched efforts of corporations to be seen as doing something about breast cancer at the same time as their products or practices are possibly contributing to the disease.

In Pastel Injustice: The Corporate Use of Pinkwashing for Profit, authors Amy Lubitow and Mia Davis provide an introduction to the concept of pinkwashing, talk about environmental factors in … More

All Pinked Out in October? There’s a Cure for That! Join the Think Before You Pink Campaign

By Guest Contributor |

by Annie Sartor

Policy and Campaigns Coordinator, Breast Cancer Action

Why is the breast cancer epidemic still raging after 30 years of “awareness” and pink ribbon products?

Each year, corporations pack the shelves with pink ribbon products, surrounding us with “breast cancer awareness” messages. These products help to raise billions of dollars in the name of breast cancer, and yet more than 40,000 women in the United States still die of the disease every year.

And many corporations sell pink ribbon products in the name of breast cancer … More

Learn More About Inequities in Breast Cancer: Race and Place Matter

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

Breast Cancer Action is offering a free, one-hour webinar examining the racial and socio-economic factors that influence the health of individuals and communities.

Titled “Inequities in Breast Cancer: Race and Place Matter,” the webinar will take place Tuesday, May 15, at 2 p.m. PDT/5 p.m. EST (register here) and again on Wednesday, May 16, at 11 a.m. PDT/2 p.m. EST (register here).

“Inequities in breast cancer risk and outcomes vary among different racial and ethnic communities and … More

Pink Ribbons, Inc. – A Closer Look at Breast Cancer Marketing

By Rachel Walden |

With all of the criticism of Komen’s defunding of Planned Parenthood last week, many people are starting to take a more critical look at the organization and its pink ribbon campaigns, asking how much good is really being done for women in breast cancer prevention, research, and treatment.

The timing seems perfect, then, for showings of “Pink Ribbons, Inc.,” a documentary film directed by Léa Pool that takes on corporate pink ribbon campaigns, pinkwashing, and what really happens as a result of … More

Komen’s Conflicts: Defunding Planned Parenthood Exposes the Politics of Breast Cancer’s Biggest Fundraiser

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

The fallout over the decision by Susan G. Komen for the Cure to stop giving grants to Planned Parenthood affiliates reflects a growing anger across the country over the intrusion of political ideology in matters concerning women’s health.

It’s fair to say the well-funded foundation had not thought through, or vastly underestimated, the criticism it would receive for making a thinly veiled political decision to cut off funding for breast-screening exams for low-income women. And based on … More

Yes, it’s October, and Everything is Pink

By Rachel Walden |

This weekend, the New York Times ran a lengthy article on “The Pinking of America,” framed as a discussion of pink-themed marketing campaigns related to breast cancer awareness.

In it, they describe the numerous pink products on sale, especially in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month, noting that these campaigns have “become a multibillion-dollar business, a marketing, merchandising and fund-raising opportunity that is almost unrivaled in scope.” NFL teams, tires, mascara, blenders, and many more products have gotten a pink makeover to raise money … More

NPR Takes on Pink Ribbon Fatigue: Views from Komen, Breast Cancer Action

By Rachel Walden |

We’ve written multiple times about pink ribbon-type breast cancer awareness campaigns — with good reason.

Concerns abound over whether the explosion of pink products for purchase promotes a false sense of doing something about breast cancer; whether the dollars collected by these pink campaigns are directed effectively; the gender stereotypes perpetuated by both the color focus and many of the product campaigns; and whether some of those pinked-out products may actually be harmful to women’s health.

Noted author Barbara Ehrenreich explores the … More

The Explosion of Pink

By Rachel Walden |

It’s October, so the explosion of pink products at the grocery and other stores shouldn’t surprise us: it’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the time of the year when we’re asked to eradicate breast cancer by buying pink-ribboned  products.

Over the years, many women’s health activists have criticized the pink ribbon campaigns, protesting that these efforts do little to fund prevention, are less useful than direct donations, and promote a false sense of doing something to cure breast cancer. The New York Times Well Blog yesterday … More