Pinkwashing Comes Early This Year

| September 27, 2017

IMG_1354We are not quite to October yet, historically one of my favorite months, the leaves change, cooler days and nights, World Series and the start of hockey season, but Pinkwashing for Pinktober has already begun. Pink brooms and “Sleep Pink” just to name a few I have seen within the past few days.

But there has also been some backlash against Pinkwashing and organizations such as “Komen” about exploiting the color, the running ribbons and marketing designed to donate a portion of profits to the cause of breast cancer treatment, prevention, screening and research.

An organization called Breast Cancer Action coined the term pinkwashing as part of their Think Before You Pink® campaign. Pinkwasher: (pink’-wah-sher) noun. A company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products that are linked to the disease. If you check out their website, there are some questions they recommend asking yourself before you “Pink”.

love-hope-and-pizzaThere has been increasing criticism of how much money is raised and where it goes with increased scrutiny of overhead costs and salaries and such for large national advocacy organizations such as Susan G. Komen. There are arguments on both sides, they raise a lot and appear to spend a lot to keep the campaigns going. On the other hand, there is concern among breast cancer patients themselves, particularly those with metastatic disease, that very little of the money raised (in the single digit percentage wise) is spent on metastatic breast cancer (MBC) and they have been increasingly vocal. Slogans such as “Pink is not a Cure” and “Cancer is not Pink” and “Dying for a Cure” now can be seen.

I think the NFL last year already decided to move on from Pinktober and let their teams choose other cancers (and colors) and not be required to wear pink cleats, gloves, armbands and use pink penalty flags. Reportedly, the league came under some attack about how much was actually raised/donated with putting a pink ribbon behind the shield. Now of course the NFL has other issues to contend with such as CTE and something about protesting the US flag and national anthem? Did anyone else hear about this?

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One of the most criticized campaigns of pinking things up came with Kentucky Fried Chicken selling pink buckets of fried chicken until there was concern that diet (including what is in fried chicken) might contribute to breast cancer.

Since then other campaigns have sprouted about how much “crap” you can buy that is pink, what it costs, what it makes and how much of it goes where for what.

And now, Pinktober starting in September rather than respecting the calendar has organizations that had September as their month such as for blood cancers, childhood cancer, ovarian, prostate and thyroid cancer upset that the full month has been overshadowed by pink.

I struggle with this every year.

hiltonI want October to be about baseball, cool nights, a new hockey season thinking the Blackhawks will once again win the Stanley Cup and of course, Halloween. October use to have red and yellow and orange from the leaves and black and orange for Halloween. Who doesn’t like Halloween? Now pink golf balls and brooms and hats and pizzas and hotels flood the conscience.

There is ongoing debate about the efficacy of breast cancer screening, how many lives are saved against the number of unnecessary tests and procedures and the cost:benefit ratios. Add to this organizations that claim to emphasize prevention and screening among their goals as well as research for treatments and cures that endorse pink brooms and football players and this year I have decided not to buy anything pink. Or sleep pink.  Or get the pink pizza.

I am pinkwashed out.

This Pinktober will be about Cubbie blue, Blackhawk Red and Leaves of Yellow and Orange.

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Category: Business, Current Affairs, Education, Medical Research, Pathology News, Patient Advocacy, Personal

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