It's October! You know what that means — candy shelves overstuffed with fun sized candy bars, sweaters and boots and tights and scarves in Gap commercials — and everywhere you turn, pink crap for sale under the guise that buying it means that you're promoting Awareness® of Breast Cancer. Thing is, not only is most of that crap doing nothing to actually cure breast cancer, it's attempting to translate cancer guilt into $PROFIT!$, sometimes in incredibly silly, unhelpful ways. Sometimes the very products hawking pink crap are actually selling products that cause cancer! Let's take a short tour through the most useless, hypocritical pink crap you can buy this October. For the Cure®.
Breast Cancer Action has been at the forefront of calling Bullshit on the deluge of pink crap for the better part of a decade. The organization's Think Before You Pink campaign serves to highlight some of the more egregious uses of Cancer! Incorporated and a decade ago coined the phrase "pinkwashing," a term used to describe companies that sell products that actually cause breast cancer in the name of raising money to, uh, fight breast cancer. The organization's badass executive director Karuna Jaggar reports that while this year, it seems like consumers are finally getting wise to what she calls "Big Pink," but that doesn't mean that attempts to take advantage of people's good intentions through pink marketing has abated. Are you ready for some emotionally manipulative marketing?!!?
You've always wanted to ride one of those Gray Line double decker buses around New York City and gawk, slack jawed, at regular people just trying to go about their goddamn business. So why not do it For The Cure?!? The Big Pink Sightseeing Tours will donate $1 per $49 ticket to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. With corporate generosity like that, you'd only have to take 49 separate Big Pink bus rides in order to equal one direct gift of $49 directly to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, but if you donate money directly, you don't also get to experience the joy of knowing you played a role in emitting carcinogenic stinky bus farts directly into my face.
Also, Does the name remind anyone else of cavernous vaginas?
If bus riding isn't your bag but you still want to see a big pink vehicle driving around, eagle-eyed readers have spotted pink garbage trucks, pink fuel trucks, and pink drilling rigs. How exactly is this curing breast cancer?
For only $71, you can show that you Care about Cancer and that you like ugly jewelry. There are sport-specific bits of jewelry — this golf bracelet (because it has a tee!) or a Football model for only $51 that shows that you love both sports and tepidly endorsing women not dying of breast cancer.
But here's the best part — 10% of every sale of Sport Chic's Breast Cancer Awareness collection goes to Susan G. Komen For the Cure, which means that you could be contributing a full $7 or $5 to an organization that uses 20% of its donations to actually research cures for cancer. So you're actually giving like, dozens of cents to breast cancer research. Worth it!
But Pink Crystals FORE (ugh) the Cure aren't the worst example of a beautification product that inscrutably helps fight cancer. Lead-containing lipsticks have been branded with the pink ribbon as has Komen's Promise Me perfume, which was discontinued after consumers discovered that it contained chemicals that actually cause breast cancer.
Here's my product description: (sound of gagging).
Here's the NFL's official product description:
The Cuce Shoes women's Enthusiast rain boots are waterproof so you'll be ready to look great and cheer for your favorite NFL® team in any weather. A special breast cancer awareness design decorates these boots, supporting a great cause.
Anyone who has watched an NFL game during October of the last 4 years has probably noticed the suffocating wall of pink crap festooning NFL players, referees, and stadiums. It's all part of the League's campaign to encourage women to have mammograms, thus, uh, preventing breast cancer (or getting them into expensive breast cancer treatment ASAP). In celebration/recognition of the fact that breast cancer sucks giant pink footballs, interested parties can buy pink crap from the NFL's site, ostensibly because some of the proceeds go toward FINDING A CURE. Except the A Crucial Catch program press release doesn't indicate exactly how big a "portion" of the proceeds go to the American Cancer Society, just that the NFL has raised $3 million to "fight" breast cancer since the advent of the program.
But the worst part of the NFL's over-the-top Breast Cancer Awareness campaign is having to look at Ben Roethlisberger in a pink breast cancer awareness jersey. Oh, Ben. If anything, you've proven yourself to be too aware of breasts.
Poo-pourri is a liquid you spray in your bathroom before you defecate so the next person to enter doesn't get two nostrils full of your shit stink. WHAT BETTER PRODUCT TO PROMOTE BREAST CANCER AWARENESS?!
I... I can't with this. From the PR email about the product:
Kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month by stocking up on the most effective before-you-go bathroom spray, while making a difference in women's lives.
Like every busy mom, corporate hot shot, and college student, Poo~Pourri is learning how to multitask. They're keeping bathrooms odor free and creating more hostesses with the mostesses, all while raising awareness for breast cancer and aiding in the research for a cure. They're committed to donating 20% of each sale of their No. 2 bathroom spray and Treasure Chest oil to research in the hopes that they can make a difference in more than just the restroom.
Poo-pourri also sells "breast massage oil," which "promotes breast tissue health" using magic and chemicals, thus assuring that I die of WTF before I'm able to turn into the giant human tumor my genes say I'm destined to become.
One of the most grating micro-trends in the Breast Cancer Awareness industry is the tendency for some vendors and awareness groups to sanitize the disease into something cute or sexy. Save the Ta-Ta's! I HEART BOOBIES! As though the biggest tragedy of breast cancer isn't the pain and suffering caused to women and their families, but to the hoards of breast-aficionados who are DEPRIVED THE SIGHT OF JIGGLING NATURALS thanks to stupid fun-ruining cancer. Adult video site Pornhub gets in on the ridiculous YAY TITTIES! train with its own cancer-fighting PSA-
During October, Pornhub.com, the leading destination for online adult entertainment, will donate 1c for every 30 views of its ‘Small Tits' and ‘Big Tits' videos, meaning the more boobs that are viewed, the more money that will be showered upon the Susan G. Komen Foundation. And with the site attracting millions of clicks per month, the amount raised over the next 31 days will be considerable.
It doesn't matter if you're into itty-bitty-titties, the perfect handful, jumbo fun-bags or low-swinging flapjacks, what matters most is that your kind and selfless gesture will go a long way towards helping our sisters to find a cure.
Just what every internet masturbator wants to think about as they stroke it to boobies videos: tumors. Breast cancer: number one killer of boners.
I'm just going to leave this here.
Because the only stranger who should be putting their hands on your breasts is the mammogram machine operator?
Breast cancer awareness pepper spray. Because, remember, ladies: you might get raped. But if you don't get raped, you might die of breast cancer.
And... I'm exhausted.
All this ridiculousness shouldn't dissuade people from buying any product that donates profits to breast cancer research or treatment, explains BCA's Jaggar. But before consumers buy pink crap in the name of making themselves feel better about the fact that breast cancer is awful, they should ask themselves some crucial questions, among them Does this product actually cause breast cancer? How much money from sales of this item actually support breast cancer research? What organization receives the breast cancer research funds? I'd like to add my own pre-pink buying questions: is it ugly as sin or incredibly, incredibly tacky? If so, you'd be better off just skipping it and donating your money to a reputable organization directly. You dont' really need a pink drain stopper.
But if you think this year's Komen debacle marked the beginning of the end of pinkwashing, think again. The new hotness in the Breast Cancer Awareness industry seems to be emphasis on individual responsibility for preventing the disease — "It's YOUR health!" Except, given the fact that consumer chemicals often contribute to the development of breast cancer, that's hardly fair. Says Jagger, "You can't ask people to become experts on carcinogenic chemicals found in consumer products. We need systemic change. We need the government to do what only the government can do and regulate chemicals that cause cancer."
In other words, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but: that shiny pink butt plug won't cure cancer. Neither will your Save the Tits oven cleaner.
Seen any particularly egregious pink crap this Breast Cancer Awareness!-stravaganza? Post them in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org