*Disclaimer: I’m attempting to answer these questions in terms of my own personal experience.  Putting it bluntly, my answers are MY OPINION. I strive for accuracy (most of the time), but make no claims to be a researcher or an expert. Ok then.

Click here for Question 1.

And here’s Question 2:

someone gave me some pink ribbon pencils today, and i wondered… is this offensive?  is the whole thing a schtick? or does it do some good?  i genuinely don’t know.  i’m sorry, i’m late to this awareness and should research.  i generally distrust all advertising to the point where i assume they’re just trying to tug on heart strings to garner a market.

Oh, dear reader, I am probably the only person in the world (well, & my two sisters) who would find your poor pink ribbon pencils offensive! Actually, “offensive” may be too strong a word — I personally find the pink ribbon irritating &/or infuriating depending on my mood (& medication). But obviously I’m in the minority since our stores continue to grow pinker & pinker with each October.

When I see a product sporting the pink ribbon, my immediate thought is “Wonder who profited off that?” Did the pencil company give some of the proceeds to a breast cancer organization? Or did they just use the very popular pink ribbon to sell more pencils? In my opinion (& again, that’s all I have), companies who use a cause to sell products should give 80 to 100% of their profits to the cause they’re using. Unfortunately, that is hardly ever the case. 10, 5, or 1% of the profit is much more common. And my favorite? The vague “a portion is donated” line… if they’re reluctant to put the actual amount they’re giving, it’s probably because it’s embarrassingly tiny.

But the question of money doesn’t account for all of my irritation/infuriation. There’s also the somewhat fuzzy issue of how overwhelmingly SWEET the entire pink ribbon campaign is. The pink ribbon, with its positive message of “Hope” & “Survival” & “Awareness” is so prevalent that the facts behind the ribbon get lost. I feel like I need to state at this point that I know positivity is a good thing — positive thinking, blahblahblah. But where’s the line between hope & realism? Are we so busy putting a pretty pink ribbon mask on this killing disease that we’re actually making it seem LESS serious? Where are the “real” faces of cancer?.. the ones whose bodies have been ravaged by chemo, who eyes are sunken in, whose teeth have turned yellow from the toxic poisons that are saving, or at least prolonging, their lives?

Case in point: A few months ago, I told a coworker that my mother died of breast cancer. Her immediate & (perhaps too) honest response was “BREAST CANCER?!? I didn’t know people still died of that!!”  She’s not a stupid lady, so that’s not the explanation. She’s just absorbing & reacting to the message of hope & survival & awareness that’s being presented to her at every turn, with never a mention of the ugliness of this disease that is cancer.

Many people disagree with me on all counts. They love the pink ribbon & stick it on their cars & facebook walls & clothing & pencils & blenders & toilet paper. Many feel that the “awareness” aspect of the pink ribbon is contribution enough — that if people see your pink ribbon pencil and then think about breast cancer, then the goal has been accomplished. I argue that the accomplishment of “awareness” may been enough back in the early 1980’s, when breast cancer was something that society was embarrassed to mention (much like today’s infertility). But it’s difficult to argue that breast cancer doesn’t have enough awareness now. Awareness has been reached.  But action (& knowledge) speaks louder than pink.

Love this blog post by Ann, who is a self-described “cancer ass-kicker” My favorite quote:

Who on this big blue planet is still not aware of breast cancer?  I’m guessing somewhere deep in the Amazon, a monkey has tied a pink ribbon to a tree in honor of October. (click here for entire post)

My opinion: Although the pink ribbon “awareness” campaign has been undeniably effective, & yes, it does some good, it has run it’s course. It’s overused & overcommercialized, & as a result, the public is becoming numb to anything beyond “oh yeah, I’m aware of breast cancer” (but know nothing about the types of breast cancer, or where my donation is going, or that women are indeed still actually *gasp* dying?! of this disease).

I like your word, dear reader… it wasn’t originally, but has become, a schtick. :)

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