The Susan G. Komen Pink Ribbon Has Been Ruined Forever

pink ribbons susan g. komenFor what seems like always, that ubiquitous pink ribbon has meant one thing: Breast cancer awareness. And it's popped up on just about any product you can think of, from hair dryers to lipstick to clothing and U.S. postage stamps. You figure you can safely assume that by buying said product, part of the proceeds will go to help fund breast cancer research. Personally, when faced with a "pink" purchase, I'd think, "Oh yeah, I'm donating to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Cool." And I wouldn't bat an eyelash about making a donation in that direction. Until now.

Ever since Komen announced their split from Planned Parenthood -- initially due to a "disqualifying federal investigation," then because they supposedly were "looking to back groups that offer direct breast health services, like mammograms" -- that little pink ribbon will never be the same. Not even now that Komen has apologized, backtracked, and said they'll restore funding to the family planning clinics.


I saw a woman had posted a graphic of a torn pink ribbon as her profile photo on Facebook, and I thought, "Wow, that little picture says so much." It illustrates how so many of us feel about Komen's values and principles in the wake of this week's initial call to end ties with Planned Parenthood. But even now that they're apologizing, I don't feel as though the image of the pink ribbon can really be repaired.

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Over the past few days, so much dirt has come out on Komen, making the organization look, at its core, deeply hypocritical, possibly very political, and sadly, potentially corrupt. No matter how you feel about Planned Parenthood, it's hard to ignore these other disgraceful moves ...

  • Despite their supposed grievances with Planned Parenthood, they've given quite a few grants to quite a few hospitals and medical schools also associated with various investigations.
  • The organization has refused to acknowledge the link between the chemical BPA and cancer, even when there is SO MUCH research that establishes a link. (But several of their big donors manufacture products that rely on BPA, so however could they come out swinging against it?)
  • They've also spent more than $1 million suing smaller charities that use the phrase "for the Cure" in their names or in their events ... Wow, because that money could be better spent elsewhere on, like, I don't know, research?
  • Speaking of research, how about how they've pulled funding from embryonic stem cell research (not political, huh??), which could potentially lead to a cure!

These are the kinds of facts you can't unlearn. Once you've read them and understand them to be truth, you can't just say, "Oh well, I still want to believe that pink ribbon symbolizes unconditional interest in breast cancer research." Sure, it used to symbolize that. But now, the organization's interest is clearly conditional. Knowing that, Komen's pink ribbon will never be the same. Doesn't mean I won't be giving money to the cause. I'll just be sure to donate to a charity that's true to their word and puts their money where their mouth is -- "pretty" pink ribbons be damned.

How do you feel about the pink ribbon now?

Image via Kai Chan Vong/Flickr

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