Breast Cancer Pink. I recently came face to face with it thanks to a very fabulous friend needing a mastectomy. She asked me to make her a post-surgery drain bag in flamingo fabric and I was honoured. That’s partly because if I see one more woman forced to embrace Breast Cancer Pink I’ll openly weep.
What if I told you that Breast Cancer Pink was an addition to the Farrow & Ball paint range, along with Dead Salmon and Mouse’s Back (real colours)? Or that Breast Cancer Pink came top of the list of Pantone colours for spring 2018? Or even that Breast Cancer Pink was the stand-out trend from London Fashion Week?
Well, I’m assuming you wouldn’t be surprised. That’s because Breast Cancer Pink is as ubiquitous among breast cancer support charities as this website is with bags. And yes, I’m furious.
Now, this has nothing to do with my support of the eradication of breast cancer. OF COURSE I’m in favour of preserving the globe’s tittery-pokery. I mean, I have two E-cups of my own. I’m rather fond of them.
My fury is with Breast Cancer Pink. That’s because we, a wildly diverse group of women, are again reduced to one colour. Breast Cancer Pink blankets everything from support ribbons to bags, books, t-shirts and even candles and mugs. Just as our girls are overwhelmingly sold pink books and t-shirts and phone cases, we women are overwhelmingly sold pink books and t-shirts and tumours.
Worse, Breast Cancer Pink isn’t used for branding because it conveys, say, strength or support. It’s chosen on the assumption that all women identify with the colour pink. If you don’t think that’s the case look at how much the colour pink is aimed at women and girls these days. Do you genuinely think it’s the colour of breast cancer because it’s, say, the colour of scientific endeavour? You do? Then, darling, you need to find another blog post to read. Try this one.
Look at women with breast cancer and you’ll see that this approach is as sensible as guns in schools. Cancer doesn’t care if you’re a black-obsessed Goth, a blue-loving mountain climber, a red shoe-wearing FBI agent or a yellow-craving computer programmer. It’ll pick on any anyone with a pair of mammarian tankers. Yet this terrifying variety of cancer sufferers is still reduced to one colour because, you know, we’re women and women just love pink, right? RIGHT?
In fact, Breast Cancer Pink has become the ‘Ooooh! Glittery thing!” of the cancer world, as if we women can’t comprehend the fight against cancer unless it’s dumbed down just like a Bic Pen for Her.
Now, you already know what breast cancer does to our identities. It makes us see strangers in the mirror. From scars to hair loss and contemplating the end of our lives, it makes us question everything about, well, everything. It’s at times like this we should see ourselves reflected in our surroundings, creating an anchor to steady us through the storm, a reminder of who we still are when the hair has gone or the strength has failed. Developing the disease shouldn’t mean trading in our identities as well, adopting so much Breast Cancer Pink that we look as if we’re living in a cervix.
And all of this is why I was so excited to make my friend’s drain bag. I was desperate to make her recovery as unique as her vibrant and beautiful personality.
Other women should have the same chance, where their colourful and varied personalities shine through every shitty moment of life with cancer. I don’t want to see us all draped in Breast Cancer Pink. I want to see us draped in blue, yellow, red and green and sometimes all at once. It’s the very least we should expect as we fight for our lives.
So if you ever do hear that Breast Cancer Pink has made it to the Farrow & Ball colour chart, holler. Not just because the colour reduces women (and male sufferers) to the prettified face of a deeply ugly disease but because those of us facing cancer deserve better. Breast cancer may take bits of our bodies or even our lives but if Breast Cancer Pink wants to take our personalities too, it’ll have to come though my E-cups first.
So what do you think? Do you love or hate Breast Cancer Pink? How would you like to see breast cancer support branding change? And how do you feel about the way breast cancer charities in the UK approach the marketing of it services to women?