Why you should have boycotted Komen by now

Credit: Lady Liberty’s Lamp

Social Media has blown up over Komen’s latest decision to withdraw funding from Planned Parenthood. I’m sure you’ve read every rant that could possibly be read on that subject, so instead, I will give you this list of horrible things Susan B. Komen for the cure has done.

1. Komen files lawsuits against anyone using the term “for the cure.” If you want to raise funds for a research charity, be it for Diabetes, AIDS, or even breast cancer, don’t even think about using the phrase “for the/a cure,” using pink ribbons, or not clearing stuff through Komen first. Because Komen has attorneys. By the end of 2010, Komen had filed lawsuits against more than 100 small organizations for using derivatives of “for the cure” for non-Komen-sponsored events. Take, for example, Kites for a Cure, a family-run Kite-flying event organized to raise funds for lung cancer research.

This is what the organizer told Huffington Post:

Mary Ann Tighe, said the Komen foundation sent her a letter asking her to stop using the phrase “for a cure” in their title and to never use the color pink in conjunction with their fundraising. What bothered her most about the whole ordeal, she said, was that Komen forced her to spend money and time on legal fees and proceedings instead of raising funds for cancer.

You got that? Unless you are with Komen or you are Robert Smith, you cannot use the word “Cure.” Because, by Jove, Komen’s got this whole curing thing covered. No one else need apply.

2. Komen has turned philanthropy into deceptive consumer marketing. Every year, Komen partners with a wide number of brands for promotional, pink-ribbon products that get the OK on the phrase “for the cure.” In many instances, a very small portion of that purchase actually goes to Komen, and in most instances, these companies set an annual cap for donations to Komen. As a result, the consumers, which are primarily women, are targeted with “feel-good” packaging, feel they are making a difference, and only pennies of their purchase are actually going for breast cancer research and prevention. The money spent on these promotional products, which include everything from cereal and yogurt to luxury SUVs, could just as easily (and more effectively) go directly to a breast cancer organization.

Here’s a short clip from Penn & Teller: Bullsh&t that explains it better than I can.

3. Komen is the world’s largest pinkwasher. “Pinkwashing” is a term used for decorating a product that has been directly linked to breast cancer with pink ribbons and sentiments of hope that make one believe they’re doing something. Take, for instance, Komen’s major Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot with KFC for its “Buckets for the Cure” campaign.

Komen and KFC came together to sell pink buckets of fried chicken a few years ago. I’m not sure they’ll be making that same mistake again, since it’s supposed to be an organization geared toward women’s health and it’s selling extremely unhealthy food to promote it. Now, I love fried chicken. But I would never buy fried chicken to cure heart disease, diabetes or breast cancer. That’s not even cancelling out your donation.

It’s absolutely NUTS.

I’m really glad that people are taking a stand against Komen. But what they have done as an organization is just – awful. I’ve only removed the first layer; there are many more to remove. I urge you to visit thinkbeforeyoupink.org  to learn more about the history of pink ribbon marketing and get a FREE toolkit with materials you can use to educate yourself and others on pink-ribbon marketing.

This campaign was started by Breast Cancer Action , where you can go for more education on what’s wrong with the fight against breast cancer and you can support an organization that truly works to fight this horrible epidemic.

The National Film Board of Canada is releasing a new documentary called Pink Ribbons Inc. that looks into the history of the pink ribbon and breast-cancer marketing. Today is the release date, and I REALLY hope this makes it to a theater around me soon.

Here is the trailer. It should give you goosebumps.

Follow-up: Put the pink ribbon to rest

Comments

  1. Mary Beth Elderton
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thank you for spreading this word. I am appalled at all of this and will no longer support the Komen foundation in the future and will also boycott products that carry the “pink ribbon.”

  2. I’ve had my concerns about them for years. Thanks for putting together facts that give me more reason to donate to and promote Avon’s Breast Cancer Crusade again this year.
    ConnieFoggles recently posted..Valentine’s Day Gifts for Tween GirlsMy Profile

    • Bellesouth
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks Connie! Yes, Avon does some wonderful things, as does Mary Kay. It’s very important that people research organizations, as well as the foundations companies like these have formed, to determine if they truly help people.

    • Mark says:

      The “facts?” what facts?

      Pointing out that they are good at marketing? How is that bad?

      The fact that they use pink to promote their brand? Wow! what a journalistic find!

      Or was it the fact that you don’t understand Trademarks and their meaning; nor do you understand their protection.

      Seems like nothing but bitterness, seeking refuge in the guise of logic.

      • Bellesouth
        Twitter:
        says:

        You’re welcome to feel differently. I urge you to visit thinkbeforeyoupink.org. Connie and I both work in marketing, so we know very well about trademark protection. I’ve been following their practices for years and will never support them as long as they continue their practices. If running and shopping cured breast cancer, it would be cured by now.

      • Vienners says:

        Mark,

        Are you effing kidding me? What gives Koman a right sure other non profit organizations for the use the phrase ‘for cure’? They generate money by promoting stuff bad for you and some how has the audacity to claim that they help women?

        I am ashamed to know that how much money I have donated to these punks.

        • Bellesouth
          Twitter:
          says:

          Thanks for commenting and reading, Vienners. I have no problem with people making money or being successful marketers. But there’s marketing and copyright protection, and then there’s deceiving and just being a biggol’ jerk.

          We should all stand up for truth and integrity, in advertising and especially in philanthropy.

    • katie_g says:

      Yikes. Not Avon, please! http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2011/07/28/pinkwashing-scientists-take-on-avon-breast-cancer-battle/ If we’ve learned nothing else from this Komen event, let’s please take away the importance of doing your research on the companies/non-profits you support. Pinkwashing and greenwashing are everywhere.

      • Bellesouth
        Twitter:
        says:

        Oh, no! That just breaks my heart, Katie. I had no idea about this story from last year. I avoid pink products but I have purchased other items from Avon and thought they were one of the good guys. My heart just sank to my stomach; I can’t believe I missed this. :( Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this. The more information we have and can share with one another, the more empowered we become.

        And don’t get me started on greenwashing! That and the joke of the Organics industry just… oh, another rant for another day.

    • Laura says:

      Avon is pinkwashing also. Their lipstick line that was created for the breast cancer cause have also been found to contain the harmful chemicals that have been linked to hormone disruptions which in turn cause breast cancer.

      • Bellesouth
        Twitter:
        says:

        Thank you for reading and commenting! Since I wrote this post I watched the Pink Ribbons, Inc Documentary and I’ve decided just to steer away from anything pink-ribbon related. I hate how the pink ribbon was stolen, I hate the story behind it, and I just don’t trust anything that combines pink ribbons and selling stuff.

  3. Jessica says:

    Thanks for posting this info. I forward this link to someone. I know so many women who tell me that Komen raise money for research and that is all they do– I wish that was true.

  4. Juli
    Twitter:
    says:

    I’m appalled. For starters the colour pink for the last few years has meant so much to me- the exact shade they use at Komen is the colour my sorority used since 1852- we also used to wear ribbons during certain weeks of the school year always pink (I am talking in 1902) and Komen sent our headquarters a C&D a few years back- I thought they had copy-wrote the image we hadn’t but looking at this… UGH.

    I would go out of my way to order the DayRunner pink planner just so my planner stood OUT when I was at meetings (I worked with all men at the time) it was easier to find and not gawdy. I am so, livid. I’m an artist. I have no spare income but I signed with the pink sharpies or a pink pen just because again, I work mostly with men no one would steal it but that money that should have gone to women, to research to dare I say “for a cure” but they… UUUUUGH. My skin is crawling.

    Thank you Susan G. Komen you did the impossible you made Allum of my organization rethink, Pink.

  5. CindyLouWho says:

    Thank you for the movie trailer. I definitely want to see this movie. There is a strong family history of breast cancer in my family, but I’ve always found all these high profile breast cancer non-profits to be a little bit too slick for my tastes and thus have never supported any of them…and your blog has begin to show me why. THANK YOU!

  6. Cindy says:

    There is no perfect organization. Look at the unbelievable display of thuggery that was revealed by planned parenthood the past couple days. I am disappointed that Komen caved to the bullies.

  7. Peggy says:

    I was so proud to see Komen take a stand against Planned Parenthood the other day…because of the ProAbortion issue….but, if in fact, these allegations are true….SHAME ON THEM….what goes aroung comes around

    • Bellesouth
      Twitter:
      says:

      Regardless of which side we support in the funding debate, I think we need to all stand united against Komen. Because no matter what choices they make, they proved this week that they care about money and image much more than they will ever care about women’s lives

  8. Christina Countryman says:

    It’s time to go on the offensive. Not only do we need to have funding to help screen for cancers and help with treatment we also should be insisting on an end to the industrial production of toxic chemicals.
    I intuit that those who profit from the loose regulations on the petrochemical industry are the same as those who profit most from the private health care delivery system because basically everyone is afraid of getting cancer. And most everyone who can pay the money to feel safe, will. It works against their interest for people to have access to affordable health care.
    We are unwitting participants in a cruel and exploitative business model. Wake up. Prevent breast cancer. Call for a ban on the manufacture of benzene. For starters.

    • Bellesouth
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hear hear! We need real research and real results. As long as people are still getting sick, we need to keep looking and stop brushing off environmental or dietary factors that contribute to cancer.

  9. Kiki
    Twitter:
    says:

    STOP USING PINK … she can KEEP her pink and her phrase … a RIBBON alone says CURE or CAUSE (if you will) … why not use CAUSE and BLUE … it can say … we use BLUE CAUSE we CAN ^-^ or just BeCAUSE

    • Bellesouth
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Kiki! Thanks for reading. The changing of the ribbon color is actually part of the history of pink-ribbon marketing.

      The original person behind the breast cancer ribbon, 68-year-old Charlotte Haley, made peach-colored ribbons in her dining room to hand out to people in her community to raise awareness for breast cancer. Charlotte was a mother, sister and granddaughter of people who had all suffered breast cancer.

      Self Magazine contacted Charlotte to partner with her on the ribbon, and Charlotte declined; stating their motivation was bottom-line and that they were “too commercial.” A couple of years later, Estee Lauder wanted to do a ribbon, tried to partner with Charlotte and failed. They contacted their attorney, who said to use another color. The pink ribbon was born.

      http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/?page_id=26

  10. Becky Bills says:

    I am 16 years out from my first diagnosis- I have had stage 4 cancer for 7 years- I remember when and I am furious- that money could pay for many things that cancer victims cannot afford health care to name something lacking-support- child care-

    Come on people- we should not have to live like this- Shame on komen-

    Pepto pink always make my stomach turn-

    Becky

    • Bellesouth
      Twitter:
      says:

      Becky, congratulations on being a 16-year survivor and I wish you nothing but the best health and the best care. I have said for a long time that instead of spending the money on yogurt or a designer handbag or t-shirts or batteries, take that money and give it to a breast cancer patient; they need it a LOT more than these companies!

      There are some programs that do go toward helping cancer patients pay their medical bills. I suggest you check out The Busted Foundation. :)

  11. Abdel Irada says:

    What we see here is by now a well-established theme in “charity” work: the conversion of emphasis from “doing good” to “doing well.” I have now become convinced that these two objectives cannot be reconciled; one can do either, but not both, because the one demands genuine concern for others, while the other rests wholly upon narcissism. (In this case, the name of the organization alone should probably have tipped us off: It’s not about breast cancer; it’s about Susan Komen and her aggressive pursuit of wealth and personal prestige.)

    When “charity” becomes big business, and starts using big business’ weapons against what should be its natural allies to suppress “competition,” we must take warning. For once a charity has become invested in perpetuating itself in this manner, we cannot expect it to make any genuine effort to accomplish its professed objectives.

    In other words, if you’re anxious “for the cure,” don’t expect it from Susan Komen or any other corporation-in-charity’s-clothing.

    • Bellesouth
      Twitter:
      says:

      I can’t really add anything, except: Spot-on.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Christina Countryman says:

      I have been letting this simmer in the back my creative mind and I have an idea. I would like to make a suggestion to all those who cherish life, whether or not they support the voluntary termination of pregnancy. I also would suggest those who are concerned with breast health have a common issue to work for that is not about raising money for “research” or denying health care to the poor. We know our toxic environment is what gives us breast cancer, further research is not helpful. If we allow the petrochemical industry to carry out their business plan with GMO foods and hydrofracking for gas there will be no such thing as a healthy fetus or a healthy breast to feed that baby if it lives. Here is where we bring our forces together as a women’s movement. Heal the rift, stop the poisoning.

  12. Corine says:

    First of all I want to say terrific blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing. I have had trouble clearing my mind in getting my ideas out. I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Many thanks!
    Corine recently posted..childrens place printable couponsMy Profile

    • Bellesouth
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks for commenting, Corine! I think every writer is different. On topics like this, I can stay focused because it is a subject about which I am extremely passionate. On other topics – like reviews, giveaways, etc – I think about what the reader wants to know or what I think they -need- to know, and I start out from there.

      Start out with some writing prompts. Blogher is a great resource and they post a new writing prompt every weekday. Check out their April writing prompts.

      I hope this helps! Feel free to ask if you need any other tips!

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