Pink, pink, pink; awareness, awareness, awareness. It’s becoming a problem.

I flipped on the Vikings/Bears game last night and noticed that all the Bears players were wearing pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Caribou Coffee - Breast Cancer Awareness Caribou Coffee - Breast Cancer Awareness poster logo_pink_ribbon_breast_cancer2
This morning I walked into a Caribou Coffee in Eagan and noticed male employees wearing pink shirts, displays urging people to buy Amy’s blend, and a poster urging people to plant virtual tulips on Caribou’s Facebook page. Locally, a bank in Faribault is selling pink pumpkins to support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Yesterday on NPR: Amid Breast Cancer Month, Is There Pink Fatigue?

[Barbara] Ehrenreich says while she is pleased breast cancer is in the public eye, she expected a more questioning attitude toward treatment of the disease. "The treatments are terribly debilitating and toxic," she says. "I can’t get behind the idea of awareness, awareness, awareness when we don’t have really effective and safe treatments."

Yesterday’s Sunday Strib: Is pink blitz for breast cancer going too far?

Rochelle Eastman is seeing red from all the pink. She’s all for breast cancer awareness in October. But the avalanche of pink ribbon products — from dog toys to hair gel to Smith & Wesson handguns — has left her thinking, "It’s now over the top." "The pink garbage cans really set me off," said Eastman, a breast cancer survivor from Savage. "If a company really wants to help, write out a check. This is now more about marketing than awareness."

Update 7:52am: I originally had the question "Is this becoming a problem?" in the title of my blog post. I’ve now decided that that’s a little disingenuous.  I do think it’s becoming a problem.


  1. Lynn Vincent said:

    You’re kidding, right? You’ve got to be kidding – if you had a family member with breast cancer or a survivor, or if you had the disease yourself (yes, men can get breast cancer) I think you’d be singing a different tune. By the way, why aren’t you promoting baby blue ribbons for prostate cancer? Are you aware there is a month dedicated to eradicating that cancer and wearing baby blue ribbons?

    October 17, 2011
  2. Jeff Ondich said:

    He’s not kidding, Lynn. My wife has been working through breast cancer treatments since her diagnosis 15 months ago. She hates the pink ribbon thing. Several months ago, sick from chemo, she handed me a printout of Barbara Ehrenreich’s essay Welcome to Cancerland and said “Read this. This is how I feel about the pink ribbons.”

    One of my best friends from high school, Peggy Orenstein, has written extensively on the problems with the marketing of breast cancer awareness. Peggy went through her own breast cancer battle in her 30’s. You can start with this article, but also a search on “peggy orenstein breast cancer” will give you other things to read.

    October 17, 2011
  3. Helen Albers said:

    For many of us who have survived cancer (2 X), we prefer to not be reminded

    by seeing pink everywhere we go!

    October 17, 2011
  4. Phil Poyner said:

    There sure are a lot of ribbons. I’m not terribly fond of any of them. I’m certainly turned off by the whole marketing aspect of it all. It reminds me of all that POW/MIA paraphernalia that popped up during the 80’s, which to my mind served no other purpose than to separate people that supported the military from their money.

    October 17, 2011
  5. john george said:

    Maybe someone should get out the pinking sheers. 😉

    October 17, 2011
  6. Helen, how come you don’t want to be reminded of the amazing miracle that you beat cancer 2x? Many people don’t beat it once. Seems like a regular chance to remember and celebrate the life you have (or praise God if you are a person of faith) would be welcomed. I’m curious…

    I agree with the statements on here about the over the top marketing of the pink. On one hand I appreciate the fact that people want to call attention to this horrible cancer (even my 5 year old knows about the concept of breast cancer and the pink ribbons and he prays for those suffering – including a close family friend), but I’ve wondered from time to time about all the other forms of cancer that are just as deadly and don’t get the same kind of publicity. How did breast cancer become the most popular cancer for society to try and overcome?

    October 17, 2011
  7. For many decades, medical research focused on male problems because males worked under very stressful conditions and had lots of heart attacks and such.
    They did tend to drink and smoke and work very hard.
    But the medical profession followed that line of thinking and pretty much ignored the more complicated body of the female to learn about cures and such. The research has now changed it’s focus somewhat and breast cancer research is part of that change.

    October 19, 2011
  8. Griff:

    As another example, as I usually do, I was playing XBOX last night and I decided to play the MADDEN 12 football game. My game took place on October 9 and what do I see, the players wearing pink gloves, shoes, towels and the pink ribbon was all over the game.

    I honestly support the cause, I was just a little taken back that pink ribbon was all over a football game.

    October 20, 2011
  9. Helen Albers said:

    You’re so right, Hayes!
    Must be very confusing for youngsters who must question, “Are breasts really The Most important body part of girls and women?!
    How about a plain old ribbon for brains?!
    Think Health, and thank God when you are healthy.
    Enough of Pink.

    October 21, 2011

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