This Pinterest board is worth sharing, as it highlights the absurdities and questionable practices surrounding the breast cancer awareness campaigns. One thing is quite clear: whether they donate to research or not, it's an industry - a marketing ploy that gets you to feel better about spending money. I wonder, what do cancer victims and survivors think of that? That someone is basically making money off of their disease? Has anyone ever asked them or are they just "bitching?"
This election cycle we're constantly hearing about the "war on women." I argue that there are many of them being waged, some silently, some not so much, and this is just one of them. Because it won't take long before someone criticizes your "poor attitude" in questioning the ethics of raising money for cancer awareness, or where the money really goes. If you dare question it, you're unfriended, blocked, criticized, told to "get a life" because you want to show what real awareness looks like: maybe a recovering mastectomy patient, not someone decked out in pink and white and prettied up for the cameras. It seems to be the one real truth no one wants to see.
One thing that really makes me shake my head are the campaigns to raise awareness that are from products that can actually raise your risk of cancer. Some of the companies responsible for donating millions (hey, good for them!) are also simultaneously marketing products that are putting their very user at risk for the disease. Go figure. Here's a short list:
While only recently has the link been made to breastfeeding and cancer prevention, the health benefits to both mother and baby have been well-established. The presence they and their counterparts had (and continue to have) in influencing cultural trends and thus destroying any chance of a successful breastfeeding relationship could very well have lead to increasing cancer rates among women for decades.
cleaning products is one plausible link to breast cancer, according to some studies. When you think about it, females are generally more likely to be in more direct contact with these products, and for longer periods of time (no offense to guys who clean). It's reasonable to suggest that products can also be leached into the bloodstream and can affect the offspring of their users as well. Have you ever looked on a bottle of cleaning solution? The ingredients are usually not listed - either because there wouldn't be enough room on the label, or they're too scary to think about.
Many of the products that contain known carcinogens are manufactured by companies that donate heavily to breast cancer awareness and research. One marketing ploy I find kind of annoying is how many of these products are geared towards women - even though yes, men do clean, and men do get breast cancer. A pink mop or Swiffer? Pink dishwashing gloves? Gee, thanks a lot.
The chemical industry also produces plasticizers that have known feminizing agents in them, that have been in use for decades. Plastic wraps, containers that are re-heated again and again and leach into your food, as well as agents in shampoos, makeup, personal care products, children's toys and baby bottles are also points of controversy, and many of these byproducts would be found in the bloodstream of just about anyone - including unborn children.
|Photo credit: USAToday, 10/5/2010|
The porn industry has graciously? donated a penny per view of their breast-related content towards breast cancer awareness, but I argue that really the only thing we're aware of is breasts. Not the illness itself, the risk factors or prevention techniques, not the reality of it at all, but simply breasts. It's another way to use controversial, if not completely offensive images, slogans and questionable marketing ploys to get people to support a feel-good cause. It goes much further to damage any real awareness, though, because we are so used to seeing images like this one in public - yet one very good way to lower your risk is to breastfeed, which no one wants to see you do. With the combination efforts of the infant formula industry and overt sexualization of the breast, an important preventative measure has now been nearly quashed.
Using cutesy slogans like "boobies," "tits," "hooters" and other sexualized euphemisms is equally offensive, in my opinion, because it not only sounds degrading and juvenile, but tends to make light of a very serious, often debilitating, disfiguring and deadly disease that can devastate entire families. I know we can't all be serious all the time, but I think because we often see too much of this kind of "advocacy" we don't take it seriously enough.
It's impossible to pinpoint so we use terms like "could" and "probably," because there are so many factors it might be impossible to tell for sure. But just in reading the list of ingredients, you know it can't be all that good, can it?
Ultimately there is so much we don't know, at least for now. I don't want to come off as a complete wacko conspiracy theorist, but even these obvious links should be enough to make you wonder where we get our information from, and make us question the motives of people and companies who want us to think we're helping for a good cause. Questions we should ask ourselves before we "think pink" include:
1. Does this product contribute to cancer in some way?
2. Does this product or slogan objectify the breast and women in general?
3. Is my money even going to the cause?
4. How much money is this group actually donating to research? To raising "true" awareness?
5. Does this campaign, slogan or product do more to hurt cancer victims and survivors than actually help them?
Buying pink may not mean what you think - YouTube
Seven controversial pink products for breast cancer awareness