Do you know how the pink ribbon—or simply the color pink-- became the international symbol of breast cancer awareness? |
In 1991, the Susan G. Komen Foundation hosted a race for the benefit of breast cancer survivors. In this event, the foundation handed out pink ribbons to the participants—the first known appearance of the symbol. A year after this event, the pink ribbon was adopted as the official symbol of the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month which falls in the month of October.
Corporate giants soon embraced the pink ribbon as a breast cancer awareness emblem and further boosted the visibility of the pink ribbon. Evelyn Lauder, senior vice president of the high-end cosmetics company Estee Lauder, and herself a breast cancer survivor, had pink ribbons handed out in their stores in New York City.
Self, one of the more prominent women’s magazines, also popularized the pink ribbon. A breast cancer organization was soon formed and was aptly named the Pink Ribbon International. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which was the first to use the pink ribbon, then came up with a stylized and sporty version of the pink ribbon which was a hit in their annual races.
Pink has always been the symbol of all that is feminine, beautiful, motherly, caring and nurturing. The pink ribbon has come to stand for the fight against breast cancer and the empathy and support for breast cancer victims and survivors.
Thus it came about that the wearing of pink in the month of October is taken to be a public and visible statement of support for breast cancer advocacies. Individuals who buy and wear pink apparel and pink ribbon-emblazoned accessories profess solidarity with breast cancer victims. Manufacturers of pink apparel and items routinely donate a percentage of their sales to various breast cancer research studies.
The whole pink ribbon movement has not been spared from criticism, though. Many have labeled the movement as nothing but crafty commercialism. True enough, there have been instances when businesses rolled out pink ribbon merchandise without really donating anything towards breast cancer. However, there are also heart-warming stories of huge donations given for the furtherance of breast cancer research due to the sale of pink ribbon commodities. Estee Lauder, for example, has donated over $25 million for breast cancer research.
The wearing of pink has been adopted by various sectors as well-- even in the male-dominated world of sports. Pink sportswear and gear now abound, with players in major leagues sporting pink. The NFL is especially supportive with football players donning on pink caps, jerseys and pink football socks in their games during the month of October.
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