Pinkwashing: The Environmental Side of “Think Pink”

With the recent efforts by the college to promote awareness of breast cancer through the “Think Pink” campaign, it would only be right to present the darker side of the link between pink and breast cancer; emphatically, summed up as Pinkwashing. “Pinkwashing is the co-optation of breast cancer symbolism by corporate actors who stand to profit from the use of breast cancer awareness imagery, including pink ribbons or simply the pastel pink which have become synonymous with breast cancer ‘‘awareness,’’ ‘‘the search for a cure,’’ or the ‘‘fight against breast cancer’’ in the United States” (Lubitow and Davis:2010). The authors through the article intend to highlight how; 1) coporerations control the public experience of breast cancer, with the intent of increasing profits and indirectly increasing the rates of breast cancer; 2) shifts the public focus away from the environmental factors that increase breast cancer incidence; 3) reimagine a women’s experience with breast cancer through a narrowly structured narrative. Below, I shall briefly summarize but I highly recommend you to read the article: Pastel Injustice: The Corporate Use of Pinkwashing for Profit

Pinkwashing simply sums up cooperate efforts to position their goods and services as helpful towards the solving of breast cancer, where these “pink” goods and services in actuality consist of environmentally damaging chemicals which in turn affect the human person. Research indicates that a person’s immediate environment and the articles said person interact with have a huge impact on cancer incidence. In fact, many goods marketed as “pink” may contain chemicals linked with breast cancer. The authors argue that Pinkwashing refocuses societal discourse onto “the cure” for breast cancer rather than the causes, shifting probing eyes away from their products. The author’s also argue for the public experience of breast cancer, in the sense of Pink events following a certain narrative and idea, portraying women as strong women who fight against cancer. Whereby the experience of suffering from breast cancer lacks the personal element for the experience of suffering gets shaped by public discourse on how cancer suffers should behave, stemming from the continued existence of Pink events. Significantly, by linking consumerism with the “fight” against breast cancer, people are streamed into purchasing products in support of breast cancer suffers and research, under the false pretense that what these consumerist behaviors are sufficient in the engagement of the topic of breast cancer.

Thus, Pinkwashing shapes how we as people see breast cancer, with displaying our support through consuming Pink goods as playing our role as concerned members of society without actually discussing the root causes, mainly environmental in nature, that lead to breast cancer.

“Pink” in itself has pervaded all facets of societal life, like our little own campaign in Wooster, How effective was it in shaping consumption decisions of the students, faculty and staff of the college to purchase “pink” goods and think of breast cancer suffers in the proper “pink” vein?

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One Response to Pinkwashing: The Environmental Side of “Think Pink”

  1. sloder says:

    What a difficult topic, but I’m glad you tackled it. I’ve never been a fan of the consumerism intrinsic to ‘awareness’ campaigns, but I never thought about the diversion tactics or use of unsafe chemicals. It’s a shame so many good intentions get caught up in something so distracting from the actual problem.

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