While many of you know that the pink ribbon is a symbol of Breast Cancer Awareness, most may not realize how it came to be.
The first national breast cancer awareness movement was in 1985, and it was a week long. It was helped started by Betty Ford, a breast cancer survivor, with the idea to spread information. It eventually moved to the month of October, although now breast cancer awareness is all year long. But this time of year is when you start to see pink products everywhere.
Where does the pink ribbon as a symbol for breast cancer come from?
The idea started with Charlotte Haley, a 68-year-old activist whose mother and sister battled cancer. She was giving out peach ribbons in the early ’90s to raise awareness about the lack of federal funding for breast cancer prevention. She tied by hand the ribbons to cards saying “The National Cancer Institute’s annual budget is 1.8 billion US dollars, and only 5 percent goes to cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.”
Haley handed the cards out at the local supermarket, wrote editorials, prominent women, everyone from former First Ladies to Dear Abby. Her message spread by word of mouth in her community. Haley distributed thousands of these cards with peach ribbons.
From Peach to Pink
The peach colored ribbon of Hayley aroused interest from Self magazine, when Evelyn Lauder (Vice President at Estée Lauder) and Alexander Penney were working on their breast cancer awareness promotion, the magazine‘s 1992 National Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue. She saw the initiative to adapt to Evelyn asked Haley to use her peach ribbon for the campaign, but Haley declined because she did not want her message to be watered down or commercialized.
Unable to use the Hayley’s peach ribbon for legal reasons, Self magazine and other people interested on promoting the breast cancer awareness with a ribbon a symbol decided to go pink. Evelyn Lauder and Self magazine introduced the pink ribbon as their official symbol for breast cancer awareness during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 1992.
The color pink symbolized the virtuous and blameless aspects of breast cancer and the femininity the disease threatened. By 1993, breast cancer became the darling of corporations, and the pink ribbon was its logo.
Due to the magazine and the distribution of ribbons, the symbol became known all over the country. As breast cancer awareness started to grow, more and more organizations started to incorporate the pink ribbon as the symbol for breast cancer.