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The Pink Ribbon Campaign – The Untold Story

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We all know about the pink ribbon campaign.  A large variety of companies have taken up the cause represented by the pink ribbons, and more recently, the colour pink on its own.

Pink Ribbon Campaign

This campaign is aimed at funding research to find a cure for breast cancer.  We all know women who have been faced with this terrifying disease, many of them having had to confront the illness on more than one occasion.  It’s saddening, frightening and maddening all at the same time.  I know a few people who have been faced with breast cancer.  Knowing that, I have no hesitation in supporting research to cure this illness.

So, why should you think twice?

There’s no doubt in my mind that there is value in funding research into any disease or illness that plagues our society.  Breast cancer, unfortunately, is one of those.  The rub is that many of the companies who adopt the pink ribbon campaign also make products that use ingredients that could contribute to breast cancer or promote a lifestyle that is not the healthiest.

For example, last October, Mike’s Hard Lemonade came out with a Pink Hard Lemonade in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Another strange application of the pink ribbon campaign is  KFC’s pink bucket campaign.  Really?  A fast food chain that sells junk food is supporting the pink ribbon campaign?  I applaud the effort, but how about taking it one step further and selling food that will promote a healthier lifestyle?  For me, it just doesn’t add up.

This practice is called Pink Washing.  It is the practice of companies supporting the pink ribbon campaign while continuing to use or produce merchandise or other products that could be harmful to a breast cancer patient.

Pink Ribbons Inc.

Pink Ribbons Inc. is a new documentary, created by Montreal filmmaker Lea Pool at the request of the National Film Board.

In this article, published in the Montreal Gazette on January 27, 2012, we get an advance view of this new documentary.  The write tells us that we will learn about companies like Estee Lauder and AVON which both support the pink ribbon campaign while continuing to produce and sell makeup that uses questionable ingredients.

Breast Cancer and Pinkwashing both receive a lot of attention during the month of October.  That is breast cancer awareness month and we are all bombarded with information from both fundraisers and awareness raisers about the campaign.  However, even as I walked through the mall last week or listened to the radio, I heard and saw advertisements for opportunities to support the pink ribbon campaign.  I heard advertisements for the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers…already! It’s never ending.  The good news is that this new documentary opens soon.  Look for Pink Ribbons, Inc. in Canadian theatres Feb. 3 and in the U.S. in April.  I expect it to be informative and eye opening.


Please don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for fundraising to find cures for breast cancer and all of the other terrible disease that have taken or affected those close to us.  In order to fully support that cause, I simply need to know that my fundraising dollars are being handled in the most transparent way. To me, that means that the companies who promote and participate in the pink ribbon campaign need to ensure they themselves are not doing anything that is counter to the purpose of the fundraising.


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