Breast cancer awareness

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing wrong with the color pink. I like it in my manicures and I love it in my wines. Some people have a strong aversion to pink, but not me! I appreciate it in my attire, office supplies, car accessories, etc. But especially during October, a month where pink takes on a whole new meaning, there are some places that pink just shouldn’t be. Like on fracking oil drill bits for example.

Years ago, when I was still in high school, a well meaning boyfriend presented me with a small box of my favorite 1 calorie breath mints. I accepted them with no pomp or circumstance. But he felt the need to point out that they were pink (the package was complete with a small ribbon in a corner) and gave me a very specific look.

This is a hard look to describe, but it was as if he expected these small breath mints to make up for the loss of my mother to the disease, to show that he knew what I was going through, and that by buying something simply because of its mix of red dyes that he truly understood me and was supporting me. Well, bless his heart, that is not what happened. I was annoyed-truly annoyed-that he thought that just because something was pink it was benefitting anyone battling breast cancer or supporting breast cancer research.

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However, it wasn’t his fault.

We’re immersed in a culture that tells us that pink products save lives… but is that the truth? Couldn’t it be true that pink products just help the company? How much money actually goes towards cancer fighting causes?

This idea sparked in me a fire. A fire whose flames were fed when friends donned “save second base” tee shirts to make cancer a little more fun and cheeky. A blaze that grew when I saw people on my college campus grinning from ear to ear while wearing “grope for hope” paraphernalia to promote awareness. An inferno that raged as I have spent the last four years in utter frustration trying to explain to people why seeing pink everywhere in October is not a good thing.

Why is this all so casual and upbeat? Why are we sexualizing a disease that will kill an estimated 40,000 women this year? And why are we slapping pink onto products that can cause breast cancer?

Luckily, I am not alone in my disgust with corporations using good intentions and the color pink to profit during this month.

I encourage you all to #ThinkBeforeYouPink this October. The Breast Cancer Action is a grassroots effort to reclaim and refocus our conversations about breast cancer as well as promoting health justice.

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Think Before You Pink is all about how to best help those who are battling breast cancer instead of helping the corporations who are profiting off of a deadly disease and misguided good intentions. Their campaigns in previous years have focused on targeting a perfume that contained carcinogenic chemicals and calling out the shady business ethics behind KFC’s infamous pink bucket. This year, their campaign is all getting away from the distractions and asking critical questions as consumers in a pink culture and as citizens of a world that is still being ravaged by this disease.

Dear reader, I know that you may scoff at this. I know that this is hard to read and trust me, it was equally hard to write. But I implore of you this month not to sexualize women who are fighting for their lives. Instead of saving the ta tas let us focus on saving the lives of the men and women who are battling this cancer.

Instead of contributing money to corporations that may be manufacturing products that could actually lead to breast cancer, let us instead engage in appropriate early detection practices and promoting health care access to all. And lastly, dear reader, I ask that in this month you talk to those around you and have a conversation about the exploitation of a disease for corporate profit.

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I feel as though it’s important for me to clarify that I’m not angry with my high school sweetheart for presenting me thoughtfully with mints, or with any friends or family who have contributed funds out of the goodness of their hearts in an effort to help fight this disease. On the contrary, I am so happy that these wonderful people are a part of my life. Their thoughtfulness and support has been absolutely invaluable over the years and I could not have become the strong woman empowered to speak out against corruption that I am today without it.

I am angry at the corporations who take from my friends and family and use that money to exploit and sexualize a disease that is deadly while simultaneously stuffing their bras full of cash. So this October, I ask you to spend wisely but most importantly to promote a healthy lifestyle full of love and light.

P.S. If this has you all fired up, might I direct you toward this documentary. While I haven’t had the strength to watch it yet, I’ve heard wonderful things.