Friday, May 4, 2012

Think Pink? Think Again.

Products by Estee Lauder
Last night I attended a screening and discussion of the movie Pink Ribbons, Inc. I attended partially because I want to host a screening of the films Consuming Kids and Miss Representation, both related to my adopted cause of understanding the impact of today's media on kids, and I was interested in what it takes to organize such an event.

The Pink Ribbons event in Charlotte, NC was very well-done, and well-attended. But what also struck me were the messages in the movie. Here's what I took away from this powerful film:

* The "pink ribbons" campaign for breast cancer was largely developed by corporations who wanted a new way to sell products to a huge target market: women. After all, women make 80% of the buying decisions in the home (Bloomberg BusinessWeek). We can now buy anything in pink, from hand guns to teddy bears. Unfortunately, often only pennies (sometimes exactly one penny) of the sales actually fund breast cancer research.

* The color pink was adopted as part of the brand based on PR focus groups, which suggested that women like the color pink, and find it cheerful, happy, and warm. Unfortunately, many breast cancer victims do not feel like this represents the truth behind the horrific disease.

* Many of the largest sponsors behind the Komen Foundation and other breast cancer research funding actually use known carcinogens in their products. Ford, Estee Lauder, Avon and Yopait were among the worst offenders.

* Many women without a family history of breast cancer think that they are safe, but in fact around 70% of breast cancers are found in women with no family history of the disease. And although taking care of your physical health through diet an exercise are important, the link between this and the disease is not concrete. Healthy women get breast cancer, too.

* Although evidence points to our environment as a major cause of breast cancer, very little money is allocated to researching environmental causes. In fact, at the time the movie was released, only 5% of research money goes to funding these studies. And only about 15% of money is directed toward prevention. The point to this is that donors should demand accountability for the money that they give and raise. Decide where your money should go. Demand that more money be spent finding the cause of breast cancer, which could save additional lives. As one physician in the movie put it, we just don't know the cause of the disease. "We're missing something big," she says.

The movie just made me want to throw all of my cosmetics and food in the garbage, and start over from scratch. Unfortunately, I can't afford to buy all organic food and personal care products. So now I'm caught. If the odds of getting breast cancer in 1940 were one in 20, and now the chances are one in 8, what will the odds be for my kids when they get older?

Like my concerns with the media and our kids' psychological health, I'm also concerned with physical health. Is it me, or is it harder to be a parent these days, with such gloomy statistics and so many conflicting and confusing media messages?

Pink Ribbons, Inc. was a very compelling movie. Its messages are very much worth listening to.

No comments:

Post a Comment