I just saw a post shared by one of my friends about “pink washing” and breast cancer awareness, written in 2011, by someone who loves butter.
The article is well-rounded, and talks about how we cover everything in pink, and when money is donated to Susan G. Koman when you purchase the pink products, it usually goes to advertising, or anywhere but a cure. The writer thinks the whole foundation is a scam, because they are looking for the moolahs to spread awareness, and not prevent cancer.
I think the writer’s opinion is fair. The first thing I think of when I buy pink merchandise, is that the money will not go directly to research. As a Psychology grad, I also know that research is expensive (but not so much when I’m your free labor in the lab, and I’m paying you to let me work in it in the form of a class.). So yes, they have to pay employees and presidents (both of whom want raises like the rest of us) to organize everything, and for advertising. If I can buy a bottle of pink Kenra (hairspray) over silver Kenra, I’ll pick the pink one because it donates money to Susan. So why bother with this pink stuff when you dollar won’t get into the hands of a scientist?
“Pink washing” is largely and fundamentally about moral support. Yeah, I can donate money, but the most important thing I can donate is my time or support. By wearing or using pink merchandise, you are a face to someone. Cancer is horrible, and if I can strike up a conversation with a survivor it makes me so happy to know someone can beat this horrible illness (The last cancer survivor I met was outside of the grocery store two months ago, who hijacked a conversation I was having with someone who used to work at the bank inside, to describe this new girl he was dating with hand motions and everything. That was nice to hear.).
I participated in relay for life throughout college to support one of my friends, and while I wasn’t donating tons of money, I got to see the survivors of cancer do a lap around John Carrol University, and they got to see me there, and we all understood that this thing could be beat. I got to listen to stories and understand something, and grow, and be human. I’m sure the walks for breast cancer awareness are similar. By being in a large group of people, you connect. I know I’m getting kind of Virginia Woolf here, but it is a moment that you share with others, that you can really only get at a sporting event or concert, when everyone is there for the same reason, and you realize that maybe you’re not so different after all (this is known as a moment of being).
And then the next day after our moment of being, we’ll throw a fit when the store doesn’t have the coffee maker we want, or when it only comes in pink.
Pink isn’t about the money for research, and yeah, you’re naïve to think so, however, the most important thing you are doing is being an empathetic human being. Sometimes we forget that human beings can be human beings. Wearing pink doesn’t mean you’re giving into a faceless industry or business, it means your empathizing with people who have been through something awful. If wearing pink makes you a more positive person, oh please do it every day.
I did like how the “pink washing” article was well-rounded, because it mentioned the large foundations should be focusing on prevention, like eating the right foods (butter, anyone?). It mentions how pink products are trying to get people to be aware of cancer, but on the downside, it said nothing about how pink is social support.
I say: what’s so wrong with empathy? Wear your pink. Don’t think you’re saving the world today, but that you’re making one other person’s world brighter. One person is worth it to me.