It’s October–Time to Gag Me With Those Pink Ribbons

It’s October. But instead of leaves of gold, orange, and red, everywhere I look I see pink.

It’s time, yet again, for me to choke over the pink ribbons. Not to mention pink M&Ms.; Pink gardening tools. Pink Web sites.

I didn’t like pink BEFORE it became the color of “breast cancer awareness,” and now I loath it. (It’s a particularly sickly shade of pink, too, a color I associate with girly, sexist expectations.)

Retailers right, left, and center are offering pink-themed merchandise, then donating a tiny share of the profits to cancer research. The reason the pink marketing campaign makes me so angry is that it encourages women to indulge in retail therapy while trivializing a very serious disease.

This is not about raising money for cancer research; this is about companies trying to sell us stuff we don’t need, just to make a profit.

However, there is some evidence that the fad is waning–

The QFC grocery in my neighborhood has bags of pink M&Ms; on prominent display in the front of the store. The label says, of course, that sales benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the 800-pound gorilla of cause marketing.

The 21.3 oz. bags sell for $5.39, and 50 cents from the sale of each bag goes to Komen. Wander over to the candy aisle and check out the “regular” M&Ms;, and you’ll find that ounce for ounce, they cost about the same as the pink ones. Two years ago when I first wrote “Gag Me With a Pink Ribbon” (below), the pink M&Ms; cost four times the usual price, based on volume.

I went back to the store today to check my math and found that the pink M&Ms; had already been sharply discounted to two bags for $7 (16 cents an ounce vs. about 26 cents for the non-pink varieties)–and this is only Oct. 1.

A friend and I dropped by the gardening department at the Fred Meyer the other day and found a whole section of pink gardening supplies by TurfKing–pink rubber clogs, pink flower pots, pink hoses, pink-handled tools, pink gardening gloves, and more, all in that sickly shade. “Garden for the Cure” says the label, but the packaging did not say what percentage of the purchase price is being donated, or where the money is going.

It was Sept. 29, and these products were already on sale. Guess they’re not moving well.

If shaming companies into giving up this misguided campaign didn’t work, maybe the profit motive will do it. Who wants a huge overstock of pink junk come November?

@ Jeanne Sather 2006

Posted at 08:01 PM in Pink Ribbons | Permalink

Technorati Tags: breast cancer, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, gag, M&Ms;, pink ribbons

Add the breast cancer pink ribbon Barbie doll to the list.

There’s a great comment posted to from a member of Young Survival Coalition. She suggests that Mattel make the doll more realistic:

“-Barbie should be bald and have assorted wigs included instead of the bouffant hairdo.

“-Barbie’s skin should be more grayish and she should be at least 10lbs overweight from steroids.

“-some accessories in the box should also include a little toilet to throw up in, many prescription bottles that she can’t keep track of and clippers for when she needs to buzz her hair.”



Posted by: Jeanne Sather | October 02, 2006 at 12:21 AM

I agree about this pink thing.I was diagnosed with DCIS and
had a breast removed last Feb and had a reconstruction done at the same time involving a muscle from my back being used to form the new breast, after one week the blood supply failed and I lost the reconstruction and my breast, apparently this was an unusual reaction or so they say. Has this happened to anyone else? It would be good to speak to someone else in a similar position. Jane

Posted by: Jane Glue | October 02, 2006 at 02:49 PM

Hi Jane–I have known women whose breast reconstruction failed. One woman I know had PART of the reconstruction fail and it took a total of about eight procedures before things were right.

She was happy with it once it was over. (I would have said forget it, but I don’t like surgery.)

I’ll ask around to see if I can find someone else with an experience like yours.

Hang in there, Jeanne

Posted by: Jeanne | October 03, 2006 at 10:18 AM