Unless you live under a rock, you probably have heard that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Close to 1 in 7 women are now affected by the awful disease. The positive is that, if caught early, there is a high survival rate. Both numbers increase each year (www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-facts).
Pinkwashing is the over-saturated marketing of pink goods to supposedly raise awareness for breast cancer. Putting a pink ribbon on a product has no regulations. We see it across a ton of consumer goods from razors to phone cases to sneakers. It often times occurs with the best of intentions but make sure to complete the research. How much money are they donating? Are they supporting with product? Does the ribbon mean that it contains no cancer-causing carcinogen? Or is this a way to simply stand out on shelf implying the a give-back program.
In October 2010, Dansko promoted their famous clogs with recognized pink ribbons prominantly on them leadning consumers to believe that every purchase of clogs correlated with a donation of profits to breast cancer research. Dansko capped their donation of $25,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. It’s great that they’ve donated, but it is also misleading to the consumers. This means that whether they sold zero pairs, which is unlikely, or a million, they were only going to donate that much. Dr. Kristn Abastis McHenry, a professor in UMass Dartmouth College of Arts & Sciences, wrote a book called The Green Solution to Breast Cancer: A Promise of Prevention. In her book, she said that many corporations set caps on their donations. This includes companies like Yoplait, a yogurt company that promotes health.
Many corporations still conduct this behavior. It upsets me that companies are using health issues to promote their products. And yet, what can we do? How do we stop big brands from doing so? To be clear, I’m not only attacking big brands. I’m in media so I love some of their advertising strategies but to me, it doesn’t matter if the companies are big or small. However, big brands are creating bad examples to smaller ones by saying that it’s okay to do this. They won’t get any legal punishments because there’s still no regulation protecting breast cancer awareness. But as a consumer, I will be enraged if I find out a company lied about their intentions. Their reputation will slowly deteriorate and other consumers won’t buy from them either. Instead of relying on these brands to donate to breast cancer research and support, why not do it yourself?
The company, Bloom Bras, is named after my grandmother who gave me my love of food, travel and my extra large chest. I lost her to breast cancer which raised my awareness and forced me to make changes in my life. This had to do with diet, exercise, getting regular mammograms and checkups and I also made the decision to cut out underwire. I do not get to talk about this in the media but your lymph nodes need to drain. Toxins build up. Indirectly, this leads to terrible consequences. Busty ladies, like me, do not have options unless #freethenipple which is not a pretty sight in my case. If you have had a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, it is even more important to understand the structure of your bra. According to doctors and surgeons, in the first year after breast surgery (such as a mastectomy or lumpectomy), it's best to wear a bra that has:
- soft seams
- a wide or no under-band
- deep front and side panels
- full cups
- fully adjustable straps
- minimal detailing
- no underwires
In 2011, I ran my first half marathon on behalf of Imerman Angels and Livestrong. There was a woman there who I wish I knew the name of. She shared her story of being a 3 time breast cancer survivor with the last bout being Stage 4 just months out of chemo. I am paraphrasing but her words were something like this:
"There is no reason I should be alive today but I am. Cancer did not kill me. My mind and spirit have never been stronger. My body is catching up. I do not care if I have to be dragged, crawl or you all have me on your shoulders, I am going to finish those 13.1 miles tomorrow."
Several things went through my head. First, OK I guess I have no excuse not to run this even though I have not trained. Second, the attitude and the perseverance of this woman was infectious. I have since met thousands of survivors who share this same exuberance. Third, I needed to dedicate my life to creating products that were better for us no matter what stage of life.
As we move into the month, we will, as always, be donating sports bras to those survivors who are trying to get back on their feet moving. We want to hear your shout outs, sponsor your teams and be a part of your incredible journey. Each one of us has been affected or will be with a woman (or man) in our lives. I encourage you in this month of awareness to recognize the badasses like Sarah Thomas who a few months out of an aggressive form of breast cancer recovery, set a world record swimming the English Channel FOUR TIMES We raise our boobs to you, ladies!