Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Pinkwashing-I’m Fed Up!

+ CV Skinlabs Team

All right, I’m just going to say it-I’m tired of companies painting all their products pink just to enjoy the increased profits. I wrote about this last year, and every year it seems to be getting worse. Every October it happens, and every October I get a little annoyed about it. I mean, not only do we have pink hair dryers, pink blankets, and pink football helmets, we have pink makeup and skin care products that contain carcinogenic ingredients pretending to support breast cancer research, and we have companies that say they’re donating a part of each sale, when actually they stop after a certain amount, unbeknownst to the consumer.

Of course we all want to find a cure for breast cancer, and of course we’re all willing to do our part to contribute to research that may lead to a cure. But do we all want to line the pockets of corporations with our well-meaning donations? I don’t think so.

The problem is that though many companies actually donate a lot to breast cancer research, some make a ton of money during October Breast Cancer Awareness month and carve little of those profits away to actually support breast cancer research.

Then we have products that contain potentially harmful or carcinogenic ingredients plastered with innocent-looking pink labels. (The video above from the Campaign for Cosmetics talks about this.) Like Campbell’s soup, here. No doubt chicken noodle can be good for you, especially if you’re fighting a cold, but in a can lined with BPA? Research continues to reveal the danger in this plasticizing chemical, and yet companies are still lining their canned food containers with it. I’d rather see Campbell’s change the inside of their cans rather than the outside.

Even Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), which to its credit, is donating significant sums to breast cancer research (50 cents of every bucket sold), colors pink their October buckets of fried chicken. Makes it look good for you, but that doesn’t hide the fact that the food inside the bucket-if you choose the fried version-is full of fat, saturated fat, and salt. So not dinner items on the top of anyone’s list trying to avoid breast cancer. If KFC is truly that concerned about women’s health, shouldn’t they be changing the items on their menu?

What’s really sad in all this is that what originally stood for the honorable intention of supporting women around the world in improved health has become a marketing symbol proven to pull in the profits. We see that pink ribbon and it taps into our heart center-that place inside each of us that wants a healthy, full life free of pain and hardship for all the women we love. So we buy the product. And depending on the company, our money goes either to research, or to someone’s new BMW. Worse, as in the case of KFC, we could be supporting companies that actually contribute to breast cancer by encouraging unhealthy food consumption.

When making your decisions this year about how to support breast cancer research, please-be aware. Some companies are counting on your emotional response to pad their bottom lines. Make sure your money is going where you want it to go. Better yet, just write a check to the foundations that started it all in the first place-places like the Breast Cancer Fund, Susan Komen for the Cure, and the American Cancer Society, or even your local cancer centers. If you know someone fighting the disease, consider a personal donation. Doesn’t have to be money. Could be a few bags of groceries, a gift certificate, or an appointment for a massage.

That way, there’s no question where the money is going.

And you won’t be stuck with a pink hair dryer the rest of your life.

How do you make sure your donations go to the right place during breast cancer awareness month? Please share any tips.

Photo courtesy soapywater via