Breast cancer awareness is more than pink ribbons

Breast cancer survivor Beatriz Madero, center, makes her victory lap around the pond with family at Pink the Park Breast Cancer Awareness event at Memorial Gardens Park Sunday, Oct.9, 2016, in Odessa, Texas. (Jacob Ford/Odessa American via AP)

Here we are in the middle of Breast Cancer Awareness month, and today is National No Bra Day. Some may say the pink ribbons stamped on products and sports fields alike would prove that the month and the movement are both a huge success. Yet, it has become evident that we have lost the cause amongst meaningless pinkwashing, where movements do not fit their causes. This is not to say I do not support awareness for this horrible illness, rather I see corporations abusing concerns and emotional attachments. The goal of breast cancer awareness is not social media posts or advertising your support with pink ribbon products; it is to engage active conversations about metastatic disease, early detection, the importance of research and many more aspects of breast cancer that a can of soup with a pink ribbon stamped across the front informs and provides nothing.

The concept of a National No Bra Day to raise breast cancer awareness neither educates the public nor provides support for breast cancer survivors.  In one description of the day, the article explained the rationale that many breast cancer survivors have to wear bras to hold up their prosthesis, but other websites do not even provide that rationale. This day supports sharing pictures of braless breasts all over social media while the hash tag, “#NoBraDay,” which does not mention even breast cancer, and is far from starting a conversation about it or supporting survivors. In fact, survivors have often experienced disfiguring surgeries, and this movement calls people to share pictures on social media of that part of their body. This may be considered making the scars less taboo, but with participants sexualizing the events and the posts of survivors outnumbered by participants who have unscarred breasts, survivors, like blogger Leisha Davison-Yasol,, have expressed that this feels unsupportive and lacks empathy. This day falls in the middle of a month that has largely lost the meaning of its original goals and sentiments, mainly to raise awareness. While the pink ribbons on groceries, sports fields and beauty products might register in consumers’ minds as connected to or supporting breast cancer, pinkwashing, marketing of companies that claim to care about breast cancer through pink ribbons placed on their products, spreads empty awareness through the exploitation of emotional attachments and serious concerns about the disease.

There are a few problems behind the practice of pinkwashing. Companies do not always donate based on the sales of their pink products. Donation amounts can be preset while there is a raise in sale because of the brand advertising its donation with the pink ribbon. The simple act of pasting a pink ribbon onto packaging also does not raise awareness. Consumers might recall the symbol of the pink ribbon and its connection to breast cancer, but the ribbon does not provide any new

Alyssa Luis is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus opinion section. She can be reached via email at