|An ob-scene from Pink Ribbons, Inc.|
By Miranda Inganni
Award winning writer-director Léa Pool’s documentary feature Pink Ribbons, Inc. critically investigates the consumerist culture of “curing” breast cancer (the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the US behind lung cancer) and what stands behind those pink ribbons of hope.
The ubiquitous symbol of the pink ribbon has permeated our culture -- covering everything from yogurt containers, to cereal boxes, to make-up, to nonprofit logos sharing the image alike in order to raise money -- ostensibly to find a cure for the disease. But what is behind the pretty pink ribbon and who exactly is profiting?
According to the documentary, it is not so much the victims of this horrible disease but Susan B. Komen Cure for the Cause, Revlon, Yoplait and other conglomerates who have used this health crisis to perpetuate a particular agenda not quite conducive to women’s health care.
Since the most significant risk factors for developing breast cancer are being female and getting older, this provides a huge demographic available for corporations to target. And women have money. And hope. Women are the deciders of most major household purchases and buy 80 percent of consumer products -- meaning that they are the most influential market group. This has resulted in breast cancer becoming the cause célèbre of “cause-related” marketing campaigns.
While research has made headway (breastway?), those diagnosed with breast cancer continue to encounter the same treatment they had available 40 years ago. This is unacceptable, considering that the “pink ribbon” industry is a multi-billion dollar industry encompassing detection and treatment of breast cancer.
In light of the recent Susan B. Komen Cure for the Cause attack on Planned Parenthood scandal, Pink Ribbons, Inc. is as timely as ever. While Pink Ribbons, Inc. criticizes the co-opting of an originally innocent symbol of solidarity and hope, it certainly does not criticize the thousands of women who support prevention of the disease, researching for a cure, or those living with this horrific disease which kills nearly 40,000 women in the U.S. annually.
This is a movie that truly, to use a trite phrase, made me laugh, made me cry and moved me. I have been known to collect and mail in pink-tinged soda can “stay-on tabs” during the month of October, officially Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and participated in “Cancer Walks.” But I never really thought about who was sponsoring and/or profiting from such campaigns. Now I know and I do not particularly like the answers.