From the Executive Director: Building on the Success of Think Before You Pink®

Karuna JaggarBy Karuna Jaggar, Executive Director

It’s been an exciting and powerful few months. So much has happened since our last newsletter. Since you received the last Source, we launched our new five year strategic plan; we published our much anticipated brochure “Should I Get a Mammogram? Understanding the Harms and Benefits of Routine Breast Cancer Screening”; we hosted our 4th Annual Action Speaks Louder Than Pink – Food for Thought event; and we just concluded our most wide-reaching Think Before You Pink® campaign yet. And on top of that, in September we moved to a new office space. It’s been a productive and busy few months. Thanks for all you’ve done to make it happen.

You can read about all of this, and more, in the current issue, which is full of great information. And, as always, I encourage you to join us on Facebook and Twitter for real-time updates on our work.

Many of you were part of this year’s Think Before You Pink campaign—you shared our information with your community, you sent letters to offending pink ribbon companies, you signed our petition asking Susan G. Komen to break ties with the fracking industry, and you joined us at an educational or direct action event across the country.

Ever since the Think Before You Pink campaign in 2002, BCAction has called for more transparency and accountability in breast cancer fundraising and marketing. Over the years, we’ve launched more than a dozen campaigns targeting different corporations and non-profits for using pink ribbons to exploit people’s goodwill in the name of breast cancer. This year, the first October of our new strategic plan, we launched a sweeping critique of pink ribbon culture and marketing during what we have long called “Breast Cancer Industry Month.” We called out the harms of many pink ribbon promotions by pointing out how pink ribbon culture and marketing isn’t just missing the mark–it’s actively harming women’s well-being in key ways.

From the very beginning, pink ribbons were invented by corporations to sell products and generate customer loyalty. To sell products, companies need to sell us a story. They drive up fear and then offer false promises to give consumers a sense of urgency and hope—“this terrible problem can be solved if only we buy some pretty pink trinkets” they tell us. They sanitize the uncomfortable realities and unacceptable injustices of the disease to make breast cancer palatable—and thus profitable. They degrade women through sexualized, cute, and titillating marketing under the guise of “doing good.” And they expose us to toxic chemicals in the name of “finding a cure”.

Time and again we see that pink ribbon campaigns harm women’s health and well-being through empty awareness, misinformation, corporate profiteering, pinkwashing, degrading of women, and a “tyranny of cheerfulness” that hides the lived realities and the social injustices of breast cancer.

Those of you who have been with us for a number of years know just how far we’ve come since we first launched Think Before You Pink. Even as recently as a few years ago, I was routinely asked, “isn’t any money for breast cancer good?” Now we have the Better Business Bureau promoting our critical questions and Consumer Reports magazine announcing in this October’s issue that “the message of ‘think before you pink’ has gotten out.”  Pinkwashing is now a household word. For a full recap of highlights of this year’s Think Before You Pink campaign, check out the article in this issue of the newsletter.

Whether you are one of 10,000 new members who joined BCAction during October or one of the 50,000 members who have been standing with us for years, THANK YOU for making our work possible. Together we are standing up to pinkwashing corporate giants and their non-profit partners and changing the status quo of breast cancer. Together we are working to achieve health justice for all women at risk of and living with breast cancer. We could not do this work without you and I am deeply grateful for all the ways you join us and support our work. Thank you for being part of our powerful grassroots movement.

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