Cancer campaign has too much pink

Jackie Mantey

I hate the color pink. Not the look of it; my room is loaded with the color. Rather, I hate most of what it stands for.

I hate that pink means girl and blue means boy, no matter which color you prefer. I hate that every girl thinks she needs those PINK Victoria’s Secret pants. Most of all I hate that pink has become a degrading word for the very thing that makes me a woman — you know that “shocker” of a rhyme? Real clever, fellas.

However, I’m undecided about one particular use of pink.

If you have participated in any form of consumerism within the past two years, you have seen a lot of pink. Pink tea cans. Pink shoelaces. Pink pillows. Pink wrist bands. Pink, pink, pink.

Those bright little products are a part of the Breast Cancer Campaign, a charity that specializes in funding independent breast cancer research throughout the UK. It raises money to find the cure for “breast cancer by funding research which looks at improving diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, better understanding how it develops and ultimately either curing the disease or preventing it,” according to its Web site.

The group has slapped the color on anything it can get its hands on, and a portion of that product’s revenue goes to research. We have it to thank for all those pink ribbons.

While I stand behind the Pink campaign’s message (supporting research, reminding people of the disease, etc.), it has left breast cancer awareness in an interesting predicament.

By masking the dangers and suffering of cancer behind cute pink groceries, women have become less concerned about taking steps to protect themselves as individuals. It’s no one’s fault; really, it’s just easy to humanize such a deadly issue to the point that it seems almost unreal to the individual.

Last Thursday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a drop in proportion of American women who completed annual mammograms — from 76.4 percent in 2000 to 74.6 percent in 2005.

That means more than 1.1 million fewer women were getting their recommended mammograms, according to the report’s author. That statistic is surprising seeing as breast cancer public relations has been on the rise since 2000.

The Pink campaign is important, but only one half of the battle for breast cancer awareness. Colorful pink tin cans and noodle boxes can only go so far. The intentions are honorable, but flawed because buying a pink product has become synonymous to protecting oneself.

The education about breast cancer needs re-invigoration. Information about breast cancer needs to be just as noticeable as the pink ribbons found on practically everything on supermarket shelves.

And to the ladies: Buying a Pink campaign bedspread may ease your mind, but it can’t check your body. Sure, it’s always awkward to have people whom you’ve never met feel you up with their cold hands as they go on about something in their lives (as if a conversation will take away the fact that they are squeezing your breast).

But that uncomfortable minute could save you a lifetime of pain and suffering.

Jackie Mantey is a junior magazine journalism major and Forum page editor. Contact her at [email protected].