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Are you wearing your pink ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness Month? These women probably aren't

October 13, 2010

Happy Breast Cancer Awareness Month, everyone! Well, not so happy for some people who are frankly sick of the whole pinkwashing phenomenon. They think there are better ways to bring attention to the need for research dollars and preventive care than offering up rosy Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets. No, the irony of that was not lost on them.

It's nervy to buck what is a growing wave of support and attention to Breast Cancer Awareness Month--one of many causes to claim October, we should point out. October is also National Dyslexia Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Spina Bifida Awareness Month, and Rett Syndrome Awareness Month.

But we digress. Much of the BCAM ire is directed toward the more bizarre marketing campaigns; author Suzanne Reisman sounds off on the BlogHer Publishing Network in a post titled, "Why I Don't Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month." It's not even her first time at the rodeo--she's vented about this topic for years.

She writes, "Where are the campaigns to figure out why, once diagnosed, black women have longer delays in getting diagnostic results than white women? TheTheologiansCafe is soliciting topless photos to raise money for free mammograms for low-income women and asking women if they would pose nude for a good cause. (I'll pause for a moment so I can be polite.) While that's a nice idea -- helping women get a mammogram -- the real question is how are these low-income women supposed to pay for treatment if they find out that they have breast cancer? Will there be more topless photos taken?

On her Forbes.com blog Meghan Casserly writes, "Breast cancer awareness month has bugged me for years--I imagine the cheap plastic factories overseas churning out all manner of things, rubbing their palms over how quickly American women open their wallets to anything pink or emblazoned with the Susan G Komen ribbon. I may be the biggest cynic in the free female world, but it's a marketing charade I just can't get behind.

"Before I'm lynched, I'll put it out there: I am not anti-breast cancer research. I've known too many women lost to the disease and their families devastated to be that cold-hearted. Like everyone, I pray that a cure is found for breast cancer.

"It's just the crap I can't abide."

There's more: Susan Metters had this to say in her blog, "Lemon Margaritas: Musings of a Cancer Survivor Extraordinaire," "There's somewhat of a celebratory tone to the whole thing which seems a bit, well, "fluffy" to me. It seems to gloss over the seriousness of the disease and almost trivializes it. That just doesn't sit right with me. Yeah I know, the celebrating is supposed to be about survivors. I get that. But then there's all this fluff about sisterhood, girl power, yadda yadda yadda. I swear, I half expect people to walk up to me and say, "Happy Breast Cancer Awareness Month, sister!"

Fran Visco writes on Huffington Post about her frustration over the lack of a cure. And on TheSmartMama.com, Jennifer Taggart promises to post examples of pinkwashing because she, too, isn't a fan of BCAM.

In a special issue of the Los Angeles Times weekly Health section, Christie Aschwanden writes about the down side of awareness campaigns.

It's a dialog that's not going away anytime soon, as long as there are pink stand mixers to buy.

--Jeannine Stein / Los Angeles Times

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