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Think Before You Pink: A Review of “Pink Ribbons, Inc.”

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November 1, 2012

On October 17 the Women and Gender Sexuality Studies department at CSULB had a showing of a new film- “Pink Ribbons, Inc.” It was a great turn out on lower campus complete with delicious snacks. A special thanks to the legendary, brilliant, and endlessly clever Dr. Lori Baralt for hosting! (She’s a recent addition to my, “People who inspire me” list). This captivating documentary made me step back and think, “Well, damn, this situation is really messed up!”

With the constant ringing of Reproductive Justice, the movie Pink Ribbons, Inc. delved into current breast cancer pop culture- you know what I’m talking about. Make-up, cleaning products, food, clothing, cars, and even products that contain carcinogenic chemicals- everything seems to wear a pink ribbon at some time or another for this philanthropic cause. But what good is putting pink ribbon on products? And where is the money going anyway?

This is where Pink Ribbons Inc comes in. Annually 59,000 women die from breast cancer. In 1940 there was a 1 in 22 chance of a woman developing breast cancer. Now days the odds are about 1 in 8. This is an illness we still know very little about- there is no known cure. Typically “slashing, burning, or poisoning” (surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy) is how breast cancer is treated. These are the same methods we’ve been doing for decades- and they are far from perfect. We still, also, have no idea the genesis of this sickness. However, we do know being a woman is the biggest risk.  With more than $6 billion being raised yearly in the name of research, why haven’t we come up with something better yet? As Pink Ribbons Inc would say, “Think before you pink”.

Along with many economic explanations about research funding, this documentary explained the harsh dialect of the breast cancer movement, in particular of the Susan G Komen and Avon Foundations. Pink Ribbons Inc explained that referring to breast cancer as a, “fight” is hurtful and inconsiderate for those who have lost the battle to this disease- as they are far from losers. Furthermore, using the color pink masks this life threatening disease with a pretty and feminine face- and cancer is nothing of the sorts. One interviewee in Pink Ribbons Inc called the perpetual pink related to the movement, “a tyranny of happiness”. Many argue that the breast cancer movement is attempting to normalize the disease. One of the major points against the modern breast cancer sub culture is that their biggest message is, “Get your mammograms” and they have little to no advice or focus on prevention.

I strongly recommend this film to anyone who has boobs or loves boobs. It was full of mind-blowing statistics, heart shattering stories, and maddening historic facts. Pink Ribbons Inc was a mesmerizing documentary on a quest for true improvements in the field of healthcare and reproductive justice. And did I mention its on Netflix? Watch it, you wont regret it.

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