Each year, millions of dollars are raised in the name of breast cancer, but where does this money go and what does it actually achieve?
Breast cancer has become the poster child of cause-related marketing campaigns. Countless people walk, run and shop for the cure.
Directed by Léa Pool and produced by Ravida Din, Pink Ribbons, Inc. is a feature documentary from the National Film Board of Canada that shows how the devastating reality of breast cancer, which marketing experts have labeled a “dream cause,” has become obfuscated by a shiny, pink story of success.
Pink Ribbons, Inc. also takes us back to the questionable origins of the ubiquitous ribbon. Charlotte Haley was a 68-year-old American woman using peach-coloured ribbons to specifically call attention to the lack of funding for breast cancer prevention. When a cosmetics giant wanted in, Haley refused, because she believed that the company was out to boost profits rather than help women. But she couldn’t stop them when they changed the colour of the ribbon to pink.
Most heartbreaking are the sick and dying women who’ve been pushed to the margins because they don’t suit the triumphal upbeat image of the pink ribbon narrative, what author Samantha King calls “the tyranny of cheerfulness.”
Pink Ribbons, Inc. makes a powerful case that the pink ribbon campaign is failing to achieve the most crucial goal of all: it isn’t helping women live longer, healthier lives. Breast cancer rates are rising. We’ve only seen incremental improvements in chemotherapy and surgery treatments, over decades. Prevention is being vastly underfunded. Something has to change.
But as Pink Ribbons, Inc. argues, until we force a change in the business model for cancer research, that’s not going to happen.
Most of us have had our lives affected by breast cancer, in one way or another. If you have, you owe it to yourself to see this film.