Read This One
I love the essay Think About Pink by Peggy Orenstein in today's New York Times magazine. I mean I really love this. I wish that it could be required reading for all adults, especially those who work in marketing, in the US. I have been ranting and raving about pink October for years, and Ms. Orenstein says it better than I ever could. The bottom line, for me and for her and probably for many of you, is that breast cancer is not pink and sassy and fashionable. It is bloody red and painful and wrecks lives--and too often takes them.
Here is a quote and then a link to read the whole thing. Please, please read it. And let me know what you think.
Think About Pink
By PEGGY ORENSTEIN
It's hard to remember that, not so long ago, the phrase "breast cancer" was not something women
spoke aloud, even among themselves. It wasn't until the early 1970s, with the high-profile diagnoses of the former child star Shirley Temple Black, the first lady Betty Ford and Happy Rockefeller that the disease went public. A short time later, Betty Rollin, an NBC-TV
correspondent, published the groundbreaking memoir "First You Cry." Back then, her grief over losing her breast and the blow cancer dealt to her sex life was greeted with hostility by some critics and dismissed as frivolous. Mammography was just coming into use to detect early-stage
tumors. The American Cancer Society was still resisting the idea of support groups for post-mastectomy patients. A woman like Rollin, some said, was supposed to be grateful that she qualified for a radical mastectomy, stuff a sock in her bra and get on with it.
Fast-forward to today, when, especially during October, everything from toilet paper to buckets of fried chicken to the chin straps of N.F.L. players look as if they have been steeped in Pepto. 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.
But a funny thing happened on the way to destigmatization. The experience of actual women with cancer, women like Rollin, Black, Ford and Rockefeller — women like me — got lost. Rather than truly breaking silences, acceptable narratives of coping emerged, each tied up with a pretty pink bow. There were the pink teddy bears that, as Barbara Ehrenreich observed, infantilized patients in a reassuringly feminine fashion. "Men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not receive gifts of Matchbox cars," she wrote in her book "Bright-Sided."