October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month you will see pink ribbons and pink promotions all over the place. Pink products, pink merchandising, and pink web sites. Yahoo has a ribbon and a cute, little bird animation next to the logo. At least they did. It's gone now. I absolutely think this is a good thing. At least the intention is good. My grandmother died of breast cancer and like you, I've known many other women who have passed because of it. I know others who are fighting it bravely right now. They will beat it, I know it. But something about all the pinkness seems off to me. I want people to be aware of breast cancer, but sometimes it feels like companies use the disease and the awareness campaign because it's fashionable or marketable and not because they really care about the cause. Yes they donate money and provide information, but they have to. They couldn't get away with it otherwise. I've been on the creative side of the marketing world for over 15 years and I've seen it. Branding or exposure or greed is the first motivation, the cause comes in second.
Pink has a lot to do with it. Pink is a very marketable color. People like pink. Pink sells. Pink is also a feminine color and breast cancer is a feminine cancer. Except that men can get breast cancer too. It's true, but I'll let that slide.
Who chooses these colors? Red is the color of blood, so let's make that the AIDS ribbon color. Ladies get breast cancer, so naturally it must be pink (I know lots of women who hate pink). Prostate cancer is blue for boys, and guess what the color is for bladder cancer... you got it... Yellow! I don't think the person in charge of these ribbon colors is very imaginative. Perhaps they are even a tad inconsiderate. At least the color for colon cancer isn't brown.
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Quick! What is the color for lung cancer? Tick tick tick tick ding! If you guessed gray... then you would be half right. The official color for lung cancer awareness is "pearl". Is pearl even a color? It's sort of a wispy blend of white... wait! Kind of like SMOKE! They did it! They linked the awareness color for the most deadly cancer in the world to what everybody thinks causes that cancer. Yaaaaay! Fuck you person who thought of this. How about green for fresh air or light blue which represents, oh I don't know... FRESH AIR? Hell, the color of healthy lungs is pink... so why not pink?? Fuck you and your inconsiderate color bias.
Come this November, you will not see lung cancer iPods, or gift items, or pearl ribbons on Yahoo or Football games dedicated to the victims and survivors, or hardly anything like that. People with lung cancer deserve what they get. They did something, it's their fault, right? They brought it on themselves. Apparently my crime was breathing. The stigma of lung cancer needs to be eliminated. It doesn't matter how you get it, it's an awful, awful thing have. Most of the time, when you're told you have it, you're guaranteed to die within months. So don't think about it as a smoker's problem. It is not. It is not. It's deeper than that... Because of this stigma, lung cancer research funding is much much lower than other cancers. Because of this stigma, early detection in non smokers is very rare. Because of this stigma the stupid color for the stupid ribbon is not really a color at all.
The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation does a good thing. They use green and pink and totally ignore the "official" color. I like that. I think they get it. I support them and so should you. I find it interesting that most of the lung cancer or lung disease organizations reject the pearl thing. Even the American Lung Association uses red and blue.
No matter what, if you can, please support breast cancer awareness this month. Even if it means wearing pink things. We need to look beyond the marketing to what the cause is really about... stopping a terrible and deadly disease that affects people we love dearly.