If you don’t know much about the history of the pink ribbon, or the massive cause marketing facets it has, then you need to watch this film.
The fight against breast cancer has been depoliticised. Pushes from pharma companies to produce a “cure”, combined with corporate links with fundraising campaigns, have fundamentally shifted the debate and public awareness of the disease.
The pink ribbon was originally orange. Conceived in 1990 by Charlotte Haley, a 68-year-old American, it was a grassroots protest against the fact that only 5% of the US National Cancer Institute’s budget was going towards cancer prevention.
When Estée Lauder asked to use the logo for a breast-cancer awareness campaign, Haley wanted nothing to do with it, saying she had no wish for them to use the ribbon as she felt it was too commercial. So the company changed the colour to pink, because research identified it as the most non-threatening, soothing colour – everything a cancer diagnosis isn’t.
Estee Lauder threatened Charlotte with their vast squad of lawyers, and then just evaded the legalities by slightly changing the colour.
From the start, a symbol tainted by corporate appropriation.
Cause marketing: framing it nice
Charities like Susan G Komen for the Cure (recently famous for their decision to not back Planned Parenthood) are largely responsible for the links between breast cancer fundraising and corporate cause marketing i.e. ‘buy this and part of the profits go to a good cause’.
The bottom line is that these companies only enter these partnerships because they are lucrative.
To be an effective sales tool, breast cancer needs to be portrayed as beatable. Positivity and reassurance mean that the more you buy, the more you’re helping is the dominant philosophy.
An off-shoot problem is that the focus on positivity is that it:
creates a frame of ‘the more I fight the more likely I am to succeed’, which promotes victim-blaming when it fails e.g. “oh you should have eaten more green veg”;
implies all breast cancer is always treatable and beatable;
softens something ugly and difficult, and invalidates the very valid feelings of anger people have.
This sanitising from corporate links took the teeth out of the growing movement pushing for prevention rather than a “cure”, and shifted focus from preventative options.
“It’s not a conspiracy, it’s business as usual”
Popular focus on the disease being beatable on one level encourages the quick fix self-help ideas you hear in the papers: “eat more fruit and veg”, “do more exercise”, etc.
What most people don’t know is that only 20-30% of breast cancer is caused by known risk factors. However, publicising this would undermining the public perception of the disease being manageable, and thus undermine the potential profits from cause marketing.
This focus on a cure encourages an atmosphere of medicalisation, even when that’s not necessarily beneficial for patients. 85% of funding goes towards cures in the form of pills that may only increase life expectancy by a small amount. Only 15% goes towards prevention of the disease - a far less lucrative market.
Of the money going to prevention, only a third is going towards investigating environmental causes for breast cancer. Another problem with corporate links: cause-marketing companies are ‘helping the cause’ whilst profiting from products that cause breast cancer.
A few quick examples: the estrogenic plastics used in Ford’s manufacturing; the rBGH growth hormone in dairy products (Yoplait); the fact that only 20% of ingredients in cosmetics have had any safety checks (Estee Lauder, Revlon). All these companies engage in breast cancer cause marketing.
The sad fact is that this is an inherent problem with corporate engagement in fundraising.
Not even touched on the fact that most research studies focus on white middle class women because those are the ones with buying power for cause-marketing products, or the globalisation of pinkwashing (using the social licence from breast cancer campaigning to operate in places like the middle east by the US after Iraq war).
That last anon that said “good fabric and lace doesn’t warrant a $300 price tag” and that “50% goes into the name,” I really have to disagree with that. If you sew at all, you will know that good lace can go for upwards of $20 a yard, and I would say that there’s usually about 4 yards of lace on a generic AP dress; less if there’s a print, more if there isn’t, so that’s $80 or more on it’s own. It’s also custom made lace so it’s more expensive. Custom printed fabric is always more as well; take a look on Spoonflower and you’ll see that it’s about $18 a yard for the cheapest option, and when making lolita clothing, you need a lot of yardage. It will cheapen the price a little to buy wholesale, like brands do, but you still have to take into account that custom printed fabric just isn’t cheap, unless you go the cheap way out for the quality of fabric as well. You have to pay the dress designers which are different from the print designers, pay the manufacturers, pay for marketing and advertisements, etc.
While I don’t disagree that you are paying for the brand name, I definitely wouldn’t say that it’s 50% of the price, which is evident if you ever make your own clothes. I wear Bodyline (I actually really love Bodyline too, and I understand the point that you made in the first ask!) and Taobao and brand, as well as handmake a lot of my clothing, so I’m not saying this from a “brand-whore” point of view, I’m just saying this to maybe clarify a few things. I apologize if this comes off as abrasive in any way, as I do not mean it that way.