Fight cancer with direct donations, not ‘pink’ consumer products

I am guilty as charged. I urged my close friend to pay $50 more for the pink KitchenAid mixer so we could spend our afternoon baking one of each recipe from Martha Stewart’s baking cookbook in girly bliss.

On other occasions, I have chosen the pink item over one in another color and walked away feeling like a socially conscious consumer. As a result, I am the proud owner of a wide variety of pink objects: key chains, pins, cooking utensils, food products, hygiene products and paper towels (yes, paper towels). I am also a slave to breast-cancer-awareness paraphernalia. After all, what is more feminist than supporting women who have been, are or will be affected by the second leading cause of death for women?

After my favorite cooking blog posted a list of breast-cancer-awareness items that included a pink thong, I had a wake-up call. Apparently, I am not the only person out there feeling a sense of sisterhood and charity each time she buys pink. I was flooded with questions. Why is there a thong on my favorite cooking blog? What do thongs have to do with breast cancer? What exactly does the term “breast cancer awareness” mean? Why is it all pink? I don’t even prefer pink; I prefer red.

Just as I am not the only consumer caught up in the self-aggrandizing pink craze, I am not the only consumer questioning the pink craze. As it turns out, buying pink items may not be as helpful as I initially thought.

Few companies donate money to breast-cancer research and prevention. Most companies give their money to organizations promoting breast-cancer awareness and education. Thanks in part to the pink campaign, awareness in the United States is not a problem while research on and access to prevention and treatment continue to be problematic.

Additionally, many companies are vague about how much money they will donate, or their advertisements gloss over the fact that very little money will be donated compared with the bigger price tag they place on an item just because it is pink. The most disturbing part of the pink trend is the participation of companies whose products are often cited as potential causes of breast cancer.

After reading an insightful article by Barbara Ehrenreich detailing her struggle with breast cancer, I realized that pink is an interesting choice in color for a breast-cancer campaign. As if women need to be reminded that their sex, their femininity, is the threat. Why do women need to be reminded of their gender as they fight breast cancer? Isn’t this a slap in the face to men with breast cancer?

For further information about companies who offer pink products as part of a breast-cancer awareness campaign, visit Think Before You Pink’s Web site ( This site offers a list of questions to ask next time you buy a pink product thinking that you are participating in the fight against breast cancer.

For my part, the next time I am present for the purchase of a KitchenAid mixer, I will encourage the person to choose a different color and send the extra $50 directly to a breast-cancer research foundation.

Carrie Bass

Kentucky Kernel

University of Kentucky