'No Bra Day' & Other Dishonest Ways We AREN'T Raising Breast Cancer Awareness

pinkwashing products breast cancer awarenessIt's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, aka "Pinktober," aka the time of year when tons of companies and individuals attempt to raise awareness for the disease in ineffective or downright disingenuous ways. I know, it's a cynical perspective, but it's one echoed by the blogger behind Cancer in My Thirties. With her post entitled, "National No Bra Day and Breast Cancer Awareness Month -- OR -- Please Put That Pink Can of Soup Down & Put Your Bra Back On," she recently struck a chord with many readers who are similarly fed up with Breast Cancer Awareness Month's unique ability to talk a big pink game while doing absolutely nothing at all for the cause.

The trend has been called pinkwashing. Like when October 13 is declared "No Bra Day."


As if -- as the Cancer in My Thirties writer puts it -- "a day where girls and women are encouraged to walk around with their nipples poking through their shirts [is] 'supportive' for women who are living with or who have died from breast cancer, or who have managed to 'complete' the arduous treatments and disfiguring surgeries required to put them into remission." Ugh. So true.

And how about those "stores ... filled with pink as companies try to make a buck off breast cancer"? This is galling beyond belief when you realize a lot of these products don't give any portion of their profit to charity ... and if they do, it may be minimal and/or directed to an organization/program where the money isn't necessarily well-spent.

To someone like this blogger, who has actually been through a battle with the disease, this annual pinkwashing extravaganza is nothing short of totally galling and insulting. But we should ALL see it that way. We should all be aware of what actually raises breast cancer awareness (and it's probably not taking off your bra and posting about it on Facebook or sharing what color bra you're wearing on Twitter!).

And we also need to be more aware of where our donations are going. For instance, according to James Bennett, professor of economics at George Mason University and recognized authority on charitable organizations, in 1988 the American Cancer Society spent just 26 percent of its budget on medical research and programs. The rest covered “operating expenses,” including about 60 percent for generous salaries, pensions, executive benefits, and overhead. Meanwhile, a peer organization of the American Cancer Society, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, can only manage to put forward 13 cents to its cause for every dollar it raises.

That's why I've been making sure to look at every pink product I'm considering buying to see what the funds go toward. Not all cancer charities are alike. And as disheartening as it may be, not all Breast Cancer Awareness campaigns have a conscience, either.

What do you think about all the pinkwashing that goes on this time of year and ridiculous campaigns like "No Bra Day"?


Image via © Matt Rourke/AP/Corbis

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