Whenever most people think of Breast Cancer Awareness, they think of pink! But where did that color association come from and why a ribbon?
During the Gulf War, the trend of tying a yellow ribbon around a tree in your front yard was a symbol of support for young soldiers. It was a signifier of which families had young men overseas and were awaiting them back at home. This movement was reflected in news stories, songs, writing, and more.
A little over a decade later, the AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) activist group, Visual AIDS, saw the yellow ribbon trend and wanted to use it to also support the men (and women) dying within US borders. This was the first example of a cause ribbon as we know it today. The red looped ribbon debuted at the Tony Awards pinned to the chest of Jeremy Irons. After that just about every charitable organization wanted their own colored ribbon to help spread support across the chests of US citizens. This widespread practice became so popular that The New York Times declared 1992 as “The Year of the Ribbon.”
That explains where the support ribbons came from, but why are Breast Cancer Awareness ribbons pink? The first color symbolizing breast cancer support was not pink, but rather a light peach. Charlotte Haley was both a breast cancer survivor and activist who sent out thousands of cards with the peach colored ribbons attached to them in 1991.
Just a year before the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation started handing out pink visors to female runners in their Race for the Cure. This marked the first-time pink was associated with breast cancer. However, it was the cosmetic company, Estée Lauder, that first mainstreamed the pink ribbon when they partnered with Self Magazine. The Senior Vice President of Estée Lauder, Evelyn Lauder, was chosen to be the guest editor for both the 1991 and 1992 Breast Cancer Awareness Month magazine issues. It was the 1992 issue that the pink ribbon was chosen to be featured after learning of Haley’s peach ribbon campaign. The pair decided on the shade “150 Pink” since it is a standard but elegant and sleek shade of pink.
From there of 1.5 million pink ribbons were handed out along with being featured in the magazine. This also created 200,000 pink ribbon petitions to the White House for increased funding to research breast cancer.
It’s easy to figure out why pink was chosen. Not only is pink associated with women, but Margaret Welch, Director of the Color Association of the United States, says pink is “life affirming, calming, playful, quieting and stress reliving.” Not to mention that pastel pink that is closest to the ribbon shade is “health giving”.
Dressing in pink today is still widely popular, especially during the month of October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We stocked up on pink to help others show their support! Shop our pink page now!