Hooked on the "Pink Sizzle"

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I’ve been getting a slew of emails this month lamenting the onslaught of pink ribbon products and superficial breast cancer awareness campaigns.

A woman currently in treatment for breast cancer sent me photos of the multi-page advertisement she received from her local grocery store chain in an email with the subject line, “Overpinked.” The Think Pink circular she shared — replete with fun ideas for hosting a pink potluck fundraiser, recipes for Pink Lemonade Frosting and Think Pink Cereal Bars, and a full page image of the Kroger headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio lit up in pink lights to show how much the family of stores cares — represented an oppressive brand of awareness. The ads, coupons, trite language, and “complete awfulness” was not necessary to increase her awareness of breast cancer. Her treatment, side effects, and co-pays were sufficient.

When I read the blog post “Pink Sizzle” by Lauren at the After Five Years blog, I knew it would resonate with many of the people who sent me similar stories about the ineffectual but ubiquitous awareness materials that saturate the culture and the marketplace. Her post speaks clearly and loudly to the rising discontent surrounding overpinked activities and to some of the reasons consumers got so “hooked” on awareness in the first place. And she does not mince words. I include some excerpts from Lauren’s post below. I hope you’ll click through to read the whole piece. It will provide more food for thought than those Think Pink Cereal Bars ever could.

“Pink Sizzle” by Lauren, After Five Years blog.

As Pinktober unfurls, I find myself experiencing the yearly cognitive dissonance that surrounds my decision to opt out of a bag of pink ribbon pita chips at my local Kroger. Imagine that: me, a breast cancer survivor, choosing NOT to buy a product festooned with a pink ribbon, and me, a breast cancer survivor, feeling quite cranky in general about this whole dang pinkwashed month.

The economics of pinkwashing are clear. Simply put, if all the money we had collectively raised purchasing our festive pink ribbon lighters (to light one up at chemo) and pink ribbon can openers (to open our BPA lined cans of pink ribbon soup) had been funneled toward research for an actual cure, there would be no more “For The Cure.” You know why? Because we would have The Cure. So why does this go-nowhere “awareness” nonsense continue? Because like I said, there would be no more “For the Cure.” I get it. Big Pink creates job security by promoting awareness, not research.

As with the cigarette companies, the goal of Big Pink was to get us hooked both behaviorally and psychologically on the product. To give us a psychological hit that rivals crack each time we buy it and makes us want more and more and more pink. So I tend to think that a stern warning that says, “If we don’t change the direction of fundraising to research, breast cancer will kill you” won’t fix the addiction anymore than a the surgeon general’s warning on a pack of smokes alters the complex psychology of that addiction.

We are getting something out of pink that keeps us buying it. Girls, I am here to tell you that there is psychological heroin in that there pink, not unlike that which is found in McDonald’s fries. Big Pink massages our psyches and covertly rewards us on a deep and unconscious level, so much so that we are willing to ignore the fact that continuing to buy ‘awareness’ will kill us.

Big Pink neatly hides the frightening little facts of metastatic disease behind a pink curtain, instead showing us only skewed happy statistics that calm our anxiety about the disease. The conglomerate needs to make us believe pink is working and is good for us, so that we want more. Pink is a social lubricant for talking about all that scares the shit out of us about the disease. Hell, with pink we can shake our pompoms all day at an awareness event and never once have to say the word “cancer” or “death.”

Realize that the sound of sizzle distracts us from the real meat of the issue; that people are making money off our emotions.

Just say no.

Say, I am aware of breast cancer now. And you know what else I am aware of? I am aware you have used hardly any of the money I donated or fund-raised to find a cure and I am pretty chapped about it.

Just say no.

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2 comments to Hooked on the “Pink Sizzle”

"women urged to get screened because it might save their lives. But that’s only 1 possible outcome, and it’s the least likely one" @cragcrest cutt.ly/jei8WJr

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