Changing the Conversation about Breast Cancer, One Conversation at a Time

Running Ribbon Swag

It’s nearly impossible to take a vacation from pink ribbon culture. Even an escape to the sandy shores of south Jersey doesn’t guarantee entrée to a ribbon-free zone. To a great extent that’s because breast cancer activists did such a good job raising awareness about the importance of the breast cancer epidemic. Unfortunately, after that little pink ribbon transmuted from an awareness symbol to a brand logo, things changed. Now, it’s a convenient icon used to sell anything from toilet paper to fried . . . → Read More: Changing the Conversation about Breast Cancer, One Conversation at a Time

Attention! [by Chemobabe]

Lani Horn, a.k.a. Chemobabe

Pink Ribbon Blues is honored to share a recent post from blogger, Lani Horn, who writes under the name Chemobabe. She is a social scientist in her “regular life” and created ChemoBabe as a persona who has “enough spunk and edge to get smacked down” by treatment and “stand back up ready to fight some more” and who could “talk back bluntly to the euphemistic ways people skirt that horror in everyday conversations.” Horn has shared her experiences with cancer and . . . → Read More: Attention! [by Chemobabe]

ACTIVISM-[SL]ACTIVISM: An Essay by Erika Jahn

Erika Jahn is a Projects Coordinator for Breast Cancer Action Montreal and a writer for Kickaction, “an online community space for girls and young women who think for themselves, take a stand and act creatively to bring positive change to their communities and across the globe.” On March 17th, 2011 Jahn posted an essay on as part of the Girls Action Foundation’s annual blogging carnival. With permission, the Pink Ribbon Blues Blog republishes “PINK!, (RED), AND GREEN: IMPRESSIONS ON [SL]ACKTIVISM, FEMIN[IN]ISM, AND WHERE THAT LEAVES US ON ENVIRONMENTALISM.” . . . → Read More: ACTIVISM-[SL]ACTIVISM: An Essay by Erika Jahn

Rethinking, Reclaiming, and Remaining Compassionately Pink

Today’s Pink Ribbon Blues essay is written by Molly Brenner, a senior at Vassar College whom I met last fall after giving a lecture on pink ribbon culture. —

Molly Brenner

In the summer of 2010, I worked as a Program Operations intern at Strong Women, Strong Girls, a nationally recognized after-school mentoring program for girls in grades 3 through 5. The organization focuses on teaching girls how to build relationships and skills while modeling these characteristics through historical and contemporary “strong women.” Each fall, . . . → Read More: Rethinking, Reclaiming, and Remaining Compassionately Pink

Interview with Emily Main of

Re-post of Is the Pink Ribbon a Bad Idea? Maybe

In a new book, sociologist Gayle Sulik examines how all those pink ribbon marketing campaigns associated with breast cancer may be doing more harm than good.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—As National Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, it’s likely you’ve seen more than a few pink ribbons, pink yogurt lids, pink football paraphernalia, and pink household appliances. Such “cause marketing” has ballooned over the past few decades, in an attempt to raise . . . → Read More: Interview with Emily Main of

“Cure for Cancer Stalls…Companies in the Black”

Gergana Koleva wrote a thought provoking article for AOL’s Wallet Pop, about how consumers might distinguish between “legitimate support for the cause from shameless product marketing.” When the symbol is used for both purposes, consumers are left in the dark about what to support and what to avoid.

Check out Koleva’s article. I had a chance to talk with her a few weeks ago about my research on the topic.

Awareness Umbrella

The Ad for the pink and white awareness umbrella reads:

“A beautifully constructed umbrella is appreciated rain or shine! Recipients will know you care when you pick gifts that show you’re there! Umbrella comes in clear vinyl sleeve. Awareness Pink Ribbon Design.”

Awareness. We see and hear that word a lot, especially when it comes to the cause of breast cancer. The pink ribbon signifies awareness. People want to raise awareness. Products and services claim to spread awareness. But what exactly does . . . → Read More: Awareness Umbrella

Cat Nap for the Cause

“Support the fight against breast cancer, simply by taking a nap!” If only we’d known it was that simple.

Actually, it’s not that simple. Deep down we know that too. But cause marketing campaigns excel at helping us to forget reality. They use the cause of breast cancer to capitalize on emotions and good intentions.

The moment we think about it, it’s obvious. I love my cats. In fact, my big gray cat sleeps in the in-box on my desk as I work. . . . → Read More: Cat Nap for the Cause

Economic Interests

Writing to you from the Texas Book Festival in Austin.

The post on the Birth of the Perpetual Fundraising Industry prompted Anna, diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33, to ask a vital question. She writes:

“The vested interests in my continuing decline in health are staggering and frightening.

But if we’re talking about this from a economic perspective, here is my question. If all the people afflicted with breast (and other) cancers were magically cured, with no further treatment . . . → Read More: Economic Interests

Runaway Ribbons and De Facto Cause Support

Paula’s thinking pink, are you? Regardless, you may be supporting pink cause marketing by default. Pink products are so ubiquitous  – especially during breast cancer awareness month – that you might have to go out of your way to avoid pink ribbons when you purchase your favorite products.

One woman, Maria, told me that she does not believe in cause marketing. Instead, she chooses to support the cause in more direct ways, (i.e., being a member of a grass roots advocacy organization and reading . . . → Read More: Runaway Ribbons and De Facto Cause Support

“Pink Ribbon Blues,” Book

Paperback includes new Introduction on fundraising controversies and color insert with images of, and reactions to, the pinking of breast cancer (2012).

Order the Paperback » 

Read Reviews » 

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Recent Sulik Interviews

A Year After Bombings, Some Say 'Boston Strong' Has Gone Overboard NPR, All Things Considered

Canadian Mammogram Study KCRW, NPR Affiliate

Breast Cancer: Awareness, Activism & Pinkwashing NPR Charlotte

Buying Pink Al Jazeera's The Stream Watch »

The Pink Backlash Orlando Sentinel

Preventative Mastectomies: Disease and Deception Listen to BlogTalkRadio »

Angelina Jolie and the 'Breast Cancer Gene' Listen to KCRW »

Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer. The New York Times Magazine.

The Story Behind the Pink Ribbon Campaign Sisters Talk Radio

WISH Interview Women's International Summit for Health

Making Cancer About The Patient, Not The Body Part CBS Pittsburgh

Sexy breast cancer campaigns anger many patients USA Today

The perils of pink The Daily

Komen pink campaign creates breast-cancer blues for some Dallas Morning News

A yellow flag for the NFL's pink New York Daily

Gayle Sulik named #7 in SharecareNow’s Top 10 Online Influencers in Breast Cancer

"Breast cancer cancer causes so easily derailed" Philly Inquirer

"Komen Charity Under Microscope for Funding, Science" Reuters

"The Fight Against Cancer - And Abortion?

"Susan G. Komen For the Cure defunds Planned Parenthood." In Deep with Angie Coiro

"Amid Breast Cancer Month, Is there Pink Fatigue?" NPR's All Things Considered

"How is Breast Cancer Culture Undermining Women's Health?" America’s Radio News Network

"Pink Ribbon Culture and Breast Cancer" The Kojo Nnamdi Show

"The Big Business of Breast Cancer" 
Marie Claire

"Does Breast Cancer Awareness Month Crowd Out Other Diseases?" Slate

"Pink Inc. Has Many Starting to See Red" The Sacramento Bee

"Get Your Pink Off" Ottawa Citizen

"Komen Pink Ribbons Raise Green and Questions" USA Today