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Elaborating on the Issues Surrounding the Phenomenon of 'Breast Cancer Culture'

By Joanna Mendoza

Staff Writer

In the 90's a woman named Charlotte Haley created the first-ever breast cancer ribbon.

Haley was a survivor herself and also saw many around her suffer from the same disease. She had seen how much money and time was going into finding a cure. These reasons are a part of why she wanted to create this ribbon, originally it was made from fabric and was a salmon color. Haley wanted people to start wearing this ribbon so she would attach them to letters and send them out but this soon became an issue when big corporations started to notice and wanted to make this ribbon the official staple surrounding the disease.

However, Haley quickly shut them down because she did not make the ribbon for financial gain. The corporations did not seem to care, they started to create their ribbon which was fairly similar but instead of the original color they decided it would be a simple pink color because that's what was feminine and "non-threatening." The pink ribbon is now everywhere which is not right because it means we are normalizing how this deadly disease has been rebranded as a way of life, commonly referred to as "breast cancer culture," which has been subject to criticism by various experts. The same industries that are producing and putting out these ribbons for support while also gaining so much money are the same industries that use many cancer-causing toxins in the places where they are being produced.

In 2001 A woman named Barbara Ehrereichs came out with a magazine essay going into detail about these companies in disgust stating, "You can’t depoliticize women’s health issues. You can’t just make a nice philanthropy around it." Many critics of breast cancer culture do not hold an opposing stance toward fundraising efforts for breast cancer research or the research itself. The declared objectives of these organizations, which involve providing financial support for medical studies, offering assistance, and combating the social negative beliefs associated with the disease, are not subject to scrutiny. Furthermore, the motivations of the countless women and men who have generously contributed their resources, time, and efforts to these noble causes are not questioned. The color has been promoted as "fashionable," and the symbolization as a whole has been watered down because people do not understand the true story behind the original ribbon and its original salmon color. Breast Cancer Awareness is a topic many should be educated on, our very own SOAR student Mark Daoud states, "I once knew someone with breast cancer and it affected them in such a hard way, make sure to support people because they might need it, but be truly educated on what it is you are supporting."

Many people do not know the story behind the ribbon and how impactful the color is, the ribbon was never made for money but instead to help genuinely support people all around the world who are fighting the battle of breast cancer every day.

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