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Is It Time To Regulate The Pink Ribbon?

October 4th, 2012 |

by annemarie | Survivor: Breast Cancer    Connect


AnneMarie is presently five years post breast cancer treatment. She feels there has been little meaningful progress in the treatment of breast cancer and that we are merely perfecting techniques. According to Anne Marie, it's time we demand more for our money.

It's HERE. Or, better said, "It's Back." It's already creeping in on us. It's only October 4, and we've already been inundated with it. Since my own diagnosis of invasive lobular breast cancer, things that were nowhere near my radar are now front and center. Smack dab in the middle of that radar screen:

The Pink Ribbon.

And yes, I hear the groans and the irritation of every single person out there with a cancer diagnosis that isn't Pink Cancer. We agree. As we see the rolls of pink toilet paper, pink pepper spray and yes, that pink hand gun, we will also get the pleasure of having ads blindsiding us, reminding us of our missing parts.



This has the appearance of an orgy - arms, hands, lips. This isn't awareness. This is sexualizing a disease. Is this what breast cancer looks like to any of you that are intimately familiar with the disease? Me neither.

The problem is global. And it's out of control.

The ad below is a billboard in South Africa where 79.2% of the entire population is black. More than 65% of the population are female. Only 10% of the population has health insurance. Of that 10% with health insurance, only 2% of those are black. I'm not trying to make a race issue here, I'm merely sharing what was told to me by my dedicated friend Kwanele, a black woman from South Africa who is passionate about seeing change in her country.



She is outraged by this Playtex ad. She finds it insulting to have a blonde, white woman in an ad in a country where the population is primarily women of color. Can you figure out the purpose of this ad? Me either. What precisely does "Playtex supports CAN/SA" mean? After Playtex funds the screening to find the cancer, who is providing the necessary care to treat those who are diagnosed? Good question.

My friend, Grazia, is an Italian woman living in the UK. She sent me a link to a video that depicts breast cancer as something to be a "secret". Take a moment to watch it. I still don't get the part with the nun and the priest – do you? Even though it's in the language of my ancestors, no words are necessary. It's one "hot mess" and it is embedded in this guest blog post from Grazia.

So now what?

It might be time for us to demand some ground rules. A set of UNIFORM guidelines. It's time for us to demand--yes, DEMAND --full transparency. If a for-profit entity runs an ad with a ribbon, their intent should be clear.

If their intent is to "raise awareness," go away. The awareness ship has sailed. If the company is simply jumping on the pink bandwagon to tug on our emotions, they should be stopped. No more using the ribbon "for awareness" and keeping the money. Yes, that happens. No, it's not illegal. Immoral? Yes. But perfectly legal. Just like the ingredient labels on our food packages and the nutrition content that is now also mandatory, we need a "content label" affixed to every single thing that dons a ribbon.

I'm not big on government intervention but this situation has gotten so far out of control, it seems to me the consumers need to be protected. Much of what goes on is false advertising and would not be tolerated under marketing laws.

But cause marketing has no rules. No regulations. No uniform set of guidelines regarding disclosure. This is big business and there are billions of dollars at stake. It's time to hold everyone accountable. Then we will be able to see which companies are lending their name to the ribbon solely for their own profit, and which companies are diligently raising funds and filling the coffers of organizations that are worthy of the money we are spending on their ribbon products.

Speak with your wallet. The power is in your hands.

How? Fact check. Only purchase items from those donating generously and (this is a very important part) those who are sending that money to an organization that will put those funds to good use.

All this chatter is making my head spin. It's time for action. Let's build on some ideas. It's time to change the conversation.

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AnneMarie Ciccarella is a blogger, advocate and activist (not necessarily in that order). You can read more about her antics on her blog, found here. She is a proud member of the I Had Cancer community, (and a very early member of the community) who was thrilled she was able to snag her own name as her user name, annemarie.

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