Why Pink?

by Courtney C Horne @FireezDragon

It’s October which means that our stores are full of pink stuff. 

There is a lot of discussion out there already about whether this pink washing actually does any good for breast cancer research or if it is just something people do to make themselves feel good. That is not the question I am asking today. Rather I am asking why pink? Why breast cancer?

There are a lot of diseases out there. Why did breast cancer end up being the one for which every product is produced in a special color? Why not heart disease? Diabetes? Lung Cancer? Where are the bright red pencil, blender and toaster for heart health?

The first component I think that makes breast cancer so appealing for products related to it is the lack of blame associated with the illness. When someone has heart disease, people say they should have ate better, exercised more. With lung cancer, it is all about smoking. Diabetes, the answer becomes that the person should have watched their weight. Even with cervical cancer you have a blame component associated with the HPV virus and promiscuity. Breast cancer though, there is no blame component. There is no “maybe you should have had a breast healthy diet” remark. This sense that it just happens to people, with no fault, makes it ideal for people to feel like they are contributing to something worthy. I am not saying other diseases are unworthy of contribution because it is easy for people to assert blame (not always rightfully either) but rather that if you are designing disease free products it makes sense to pick something with no blame option.

Breast cancer isn’t the only blame free option. I can’t picture an ovarian cancer blame statement. I also can’t picture an entire line of ovarian cancer related kitchen appliances. That brings me to my second component. Breasts are central to our society. Advertisements focus on them, we have developed an entire industry of plastic surgery to enhance them, and there are countless products designed to enhance their appearance.  An obvious extension of the breast’s central place in our society is that a disease associated with it will easily grasp our focus.

This all serves to make pink-washed items easy to see which in turn makes more and more of those products enter the market.

Breast cancer research is undoubtedly very important but do we really need to buy pink keyboards, mice, and blenders to make progress?