The Dark Shade of Pink

One of the best parts of about our modern culture is the increased awareness of massively important issues—such as the ever present fight against breast cancer—through media and corporate outlets. October is such a vital marketing machine for breast cancer awareness that it’s not uncommon to see everyone and their mother sporting pink shirts, makeup, hair accessories and anything else that can be made pink. Unfortunately, there’s a dark side to the awareness, the sexualization, marketing and glamorization of a life-altering illness.

One of the most recognizable slogans for awareness is “Save the Tatas.” This is massively problematic for a variety of reasons, the most important being the separation of breasts from the individual body. Valuing women’s individual body parts over their entire being devalues their self-worth as a human, and leads to them to being seen as lower class citizens in the eyes of society and ultimately themselves. The fight against breast cancer and the effort to increase awareness should be focused on how the disease affects the woman as a whole, not just her breasts.

Companies also massively profit from the awareness raised. Pink is the most recognizable color for breast cancer awareness, and companies often exploit this to turn a quick profit without giving to the cause. It’s simple really: make a hammer pink and consumer minds will automatically go to breast cancer awareness. They will then buy the product thinking that their purchase is helping fund breast cancer research. This leads to millions of products being sold, but reputable organizations, such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation, not actually receiving money from those sales.

How can the everyday collegiette make a difference with both raising appropriate awareness and contributing to a great cause?

1. When speaking about aiding in the fight against breast cancer, refer to the whole woman. Remember that, as women, we are equal to far more than the sum of our parts.

2. Give donations directly reputable organizations, whether it be student-led groups on campus like Zeta Tau Alpha or the actual National Breast Cancer Foundation.

3. Don’t throw your money away on products just because of the innate desire to buy everything pink because it’s meant to support a cause.

4. Be smart about giving to and speaking about breast cancer.

5. Above all, remember that breast cancer patients, survivors, and those who didn’t win the fight are, were and always will be human.