October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (in case you've been living under a rock), and we are about to washed away by all things pink.
We've talked about pinkwashing before: Lori Smith mentioned it in her blog Beauty Hurts...Literally, and I've made my disdain for the useless spraying of pink on everything and calling it awareness known in Stop the Pink. Pinkwashing is when a company sells products with pink ribbons, logos, slogans, etc., that seem as if they're promoting breast cancer awareness, and financially supporting cancer research, when in reality, they aren't.
What's the big deal?
After my mother's breast cancer diagnosis and treatment (radical mastectomy, radiation, and chemo), she became a pink ribbon machine. If it had a pink ribbon, slogan, or mention of breast cancer on it, she bought it: T-shirts, mugs, pins, make up, food... She also gave her "awareness" wares to other people. She was the perfect target for pinkwashing.
This month, educate your breast cancer patients and their families about pinkwashing. Encourage them to put their newfound passion for finding a cure for breast cancer to good use by making smart purchases, because buying a pink-ribboned keychain at Dollar General is about as helpful in funding research and finding a cure as a 15-year-old boy buying a "Free Breast Exams Here" t-shirt from Spencer's.
Think before you pink
A great site to help you and your patients navigate pinkwashing is Think Before You Pink
. They encourage people to ask these questions before they buy pink:
- Does any money from this purchase go to support breast cancer programs? How much?
- What organization will get the money? What will they do with the funds, and how do these programs turn the tide of the breast cancer epidemic?
- Is there a cap on the amount the company will donate? Has this maximum donation already been met? Can you tell?
- Does this purchase put you or someone you love at risk for exposure to toxins linked to breast cancer? What is the company doing to ensure that its products are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?
Look at the companies you or your patients are financially supporting. Where does the money really go?
Charity Navigator has a list of breast cancer-focused charities and grades them based on their financial health. For example, how accountable and "transparent" is their spending? Charity Navigator notes the wide rage in donation services among many of these charities.
For example, one charity spends less than 2 percent of its budget on fundraising expenses, while another spends more than 58 percent. Many of these charities spend at least 80 percent of their budgets on programs and services, while three spend less than 50 percent.
Cancer survivors and their families often become passionate supporters of their cancer's cure. We have a responsibility to encourage their advocacy by directing their passion with good information.
What other resources do you use that keep breast cancer charities accountable?