Why a Pink Ribbon for Breast Cancer?


The pink ribbon has become an international symbol of breast cancer awareness and solidarity. The pink ribbon, along with the color pink itself, is often used as a symbol of support for women with breast cancer and with breast cancer research and treatment.

The first use of the pink ribbon as a symbol for breast cancer was in 1991 when the Susan G. Komen Foundation handed out pink ribbons in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors. The pink ribbon was adopted as the symbol of the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign the next year. The pink ribbon's creation is credited to Alexandra Penney, editor-in-chief of Self Magazine and Evelyn Lauder, senior vice president of Estee Lauder.

Yet the ribbon began before that, though necessarily as pink. The ribbon itself has been used as symbol for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. The simple looped and crossed ribbon seen today was first widely used as a symbol for awareness of AIDS when the red ribbon was introduced and worn by celebrities in the 1980s.

The pink ribbon was first peach.

The first use of a ribbon for breast cancer awareness was by grassroots activist Charlotte Haley as a way to pressure the National Cancer Institute to increase its funding for breast cancer research. When Penney approached Haley about adopting the peach ribbon for use in a nationalized campaign, Haley refused. So Lauder and Penney changed the ribbon to pink to avoid legal issues and used it with their campaign, making it an international symbol.

In 1996, a pink and blue ribbon was introduced by Nancy Nick, who founded the John W. Nick Foundation, to symbolize support for and awareness of male breast cancer.

Today, the pink ribbon is both a symbol and a marketing tool, often used in conjunction with breast cancer support or awareness by commercial entities and as a symbol for charitable organizations. Organizations like Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Pink Ribbon International use it in their logos.

Source: PinkRibbon.org
Photo credit: Paul Falardeau/Flickr


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