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Pink Ribbon for Breast Cancer: Meaning, Importance, and The Story

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

Breast cancer is a common type of cancer among some women in the world, and we, as Triwi, think that it should not be overlooked. To create awareness, we try our best to inform you all about breast cancer and women's health in general. The pink ribbon is a part of breast cancer as it is accepted as the symbol of it. Let’s see how it became the universal symbol of breast cancer awareness.


breast cancer ribbon

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is declared Breast Cancer Awareness month in 1985, and since then, a lot of individuals and organizations participate in events to raise awareness for it around the world. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an opportunity for people around the world to create awareness and raise funds for people who are affected by breast cancer.


During this month, a lot of organizations and major breast cancer charities

organize events including runs and walks. Moreover, these campaigns also aim to increase public knowledge about the disease by informing people about breast cancer symptoms, its treatment, how to prevent or diagnose it, and encouraging women to have the habit of doing regular mammograms and self-breast exams.


The campaigns also inform people about how to support those who are affected by breast cancer.


“Where does pink ribbon come to play?” you might ask. During this month, it is possible for you to see a lot of pink around you such as on buildings, transportation, commercial boards, and people. This is because the pink ribbon is considered the breast cancer ribbon that stands as a representation of breast cancer awareness and the primary symbol of the campaign.


So, what is the breast cancer ribbon?

The pink breast cancer ribbon is a symbol of breast cancer awareness. It is pink colored and mostly used to raise awareness among people and fund breast cancer research and treatment. It is also worn to show support for women who suffered or suffering from breast cancer.


You might be familiar with it or have seen it mostly during breast cancer month pinned over the clothing. Mostly during October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, people wear pink ribbons to celebrate breast cancer survivors, pay tribute to those who have lost to the disease, and show support for the efforts we are making to end it.


This is because the pink ribbon is considered the breast cancer ribbon that stands as a representation of breast cancer awareness and the primary symbol of the campaign.


pink ribbon breast cancer ribbon history

History of the Pink Ribbon as the Breast Cancer Ribbon

Did you know that the breast cancer ribbon was originally peach-colored? Here is the story of the breast cancer ribbon and its journey to becoming one of the most known symbols in the world.


The breast cancer ribbon was created by Charlotte Haley, an American woman who lived in California in the 90s. She decided to create the very first breast cancer ribbon because her sister, daughter, and granddaughter were diagnosed with breast cancer. She wanted to do something about creating awareness among people, so she began to craft peach-colored ribbons in her house, by herself.


As she made the ribbons, with each set of ribbons she attached a card to create awareness about breast cancer and encourage people to demand more government funding for research. On the cards, she wrote “The National Cancer Institute annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. "Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon” on it.


She handed out ribbons to friends, family, and people around her and manage to create a noise. Haley’s efforts and the idea of the ribbon became the first little steps of today’s one of the most familiar universal symbols. Her ribbons led to the widespread use of pink ribbons to create awareness about breast cancer.


How did the breast cancer ribbon change from peach-colored to pink?


Susan G. Komen Foundation, which is a breast cancer organization, later took over the campaign Charlotte Haley created and changed the color of the ribbon to pink and declared October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.


pink ribbon breast cancer

What is “pinkwashing”?

When the topic is women's health, breast cancer, and pink ribbons as the breast cancer ribbons, it is important to talk about pinkwashing and be aware of it. Breast Cancer Action, a group devoted to battling breast cancer at the correlations of social and environmental justice, is credited with coining the term "pinkwashing" in the first place.


Pinkwashing, which was coined in 2002 to criticize businesses that market products with a pink ribbon, which stands for support for breast cancer charities, while producing or selling carcinogenic products, is a play on the term "whitewashing," which is defined as an effort to

conceal or dilute unpleasant facts.


“Pinkwashing” is the term used to describe the practice of exploiting breast cancer awareness and the color pink as a marketing ploy without actually doing anything to promote and create awareness about the causes related to breast cancer.


This can include businesses that raise awareness of breast cancer while simultaneously advertising their goods or services—but without really making any notable investments in breast cancer research or support services. Organizations that pretend to promote breast cancer causes but do not actually devote a significant percentage of their funding to these causes are known as pinkwashing.


The pink ribbon campaign is the most prevalent instance of pinkwashing;

companies mostly use it to sell their goods and services while making no efforts to contribute or investments in breast cancer support or funding. Pinkwashing, according to its critics, is a strategy used by businesses to profit from the sentiment and goodwill associated with breast cancer awareness without actually having a substantial impact on the problem.


It is important for consumers to be aware of pinkwashing and educate themselves about the term and the aims or contributions of businesses and companies that pretend to promote breast cancer issues.


You should do your research before buying a product or supporting those organizations that exploit breast cancer and instead, support those who have a solid history of funding and supporting breast cancer organizations and campaigns that aim for creating awareness, preventing, or doing research about breast cancer.


Because the breast cancer ribbon does not have an agency, it is also important to know that its use not always means a product has cancer-free ingredients, supports breast cancer organizations, and funds them.


awareness ribbons pink ribbon

The Origins of Awareness Ribbons

The origins of the yellow ribbon tradition have been attributed to Penelope Laingen, a military wife, who tied a yellow ribbon around an oak tree in her yard as a symbol of hope for her husband, who was being held hostage in Iran.


This act was said to have been inspired by the popular song, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree." Through her actions, Penelope is credited with launching her own American tradition, which encouraged the use of literal and metaphorical yellow awareness ribbons tied around oak trees as a symbol of hope and support for those in difficult situations.


Awareness ribbons have a military connection in their origins, as it was used to symbolize hope for returning soldiers during the Gulf War in 1991. However, in 1992, activists adopted the use of awareness ribbons to raise awareness for the AIDS epidemic. The red ribbon was used to signify the passion and commitment to finding a cure for the disease.


In the same year, Charlotte Harley introduced peach-colored ribbons to the breast cancer community. With the contribution of Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the pink ribbon has since become synonymous with breast cancer awareness their use of the pink breast cancer ribbon.


Today, pink ribbons continue to be widely used to raise awareness and support for breast cancer research and treatment.

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