"Why are the comics pink?" my mother wanted to know a few weeks ago, glancing at the Sunday funnies lying on the kitchen table.
"Breast cancer," I explained.
Enough said. Anyone who hasn't been living on Neptune for the past few years knows that pink is shorthand for, "I care about breast cancer patients." Especially during last month, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the whole world seemed awash in pink. From football players' chinstraps to bracelets to the omnipresent ribbons to, yes, the comics, the color of awareness was everywhere.
It's odd, then, that some breast cancer patients and survivors—like my mom—are getting a little tired of it all.
"Especially during October, everything from toilet paper to buckets of fried chicken to the chin straps of NFL players look as if they have been steeped in Pepto," writes Peggy Orenstein, another survivor, in The New York Times. "If the goal was 'awareness,' that has surely been met—largely, you could argue, because corporations recognized that with virtually no effort (and often minimal monetary contribution), going pink made them a lot of green."
What does all this awareness actually accomplish? In Orenstein's opinion, not much: "Rather than being playful, which is what these campaigns are after, sexy cancer suppresses discussion of real cancer, rendering its sufferers—the ones whom all this is supposed to be for—invisible."
My mom feels much the same way, which is why the pink comics left her less than impressed. When she had her own battle with breast cancer a few years ago, the parade of pink was little more than background noise for her, and not very pleasant noise at that. For all the efforts to correlate cute pink accessories with the message ...1
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