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Pastel Injustice: The Corporate Use of Pinkwashing for Profit



This article discusses the importance of recognizing pinkwashing, the practice of using the color pink and pink ribbons to indicate a company has joined the search for a breast cancer cure and to invoke breast cancer solidarity, even when the company may be using chemicals linked to cancer. This article argues that pinkwashing is a form of social injustice directed at women in the United States because the practice a) provides a vehicle for corporations to control the public experience of breast cancer, while simultaneously increasing profits and potentially contributing to the rising rate of the disease; b) obscures an environ-mental health discourse that recognizes the environmental causes of breast cancer; and c) co-opts or redirects women's experiences of the disease by narrowly defining what is possible.
Pastel Injustice: The Corporate Use
of Pinkwashing for Profit
Amy Lubitow and Mia Davis
This article discusses the importance of recognizing pinkwashing, the practice of using the color pink and
pink ribbons to indicate a company has joined the search for a breast cancer cure and to invoke breast
cancer solidarity, even when the company may be using chemicals linked to cancer. This article argues that
pinkwashing is a form of social injustice directed at women in the United States because the practice a)
provides a vehicle for corporations to control the public experience of breast cancer, while simultaneously
increasing profits and potentially contributing to the rising rate of the disease; b) obscures an environ-
mental health discourse that recognizes the environmental causes of breast cancer; and c) co-opts or
redirects women’s experiences of the disease by narrowly defining what is possible.
This article discusses the importance of recog-
nizing a complex and multi-layered injustice related
to women’s health in the United States. Pinkwashing is the
co-optation of breast cancer symbolism by corporate ac-
tors who stand to profit from the use of breast cancer
awareness imagery, including pink ribbons or simply the
pastel pink which have become synonymous with breast
cancer ‘‘awareness,’’ ‘‘the search for a cure,’’ or the ‘‘fight
against breast cancer’’ in the United States.
This article will describe and explore the manner in
which this phenomenon functions, with the goal of ar-
ticulating a term that has rarely been explored outside of
cultural outlets, such as blogs and non-profit organiza-
tions’ Web sites as well as a recent documentary,
often identify instances of pinkwashing but do not ex-
plore the extent to which pinkwashing has penetrated the
breast cancer experience. Specifically, we wish to high-
light how pinkwashing a) provides the vehicle for cor-
porations to control the public experience of breast cancer,
while simultaneously increasing profits and potentially
contributing to the increasing rate of the disease; b) ob-
scures an environmental health discourse that recognizes
the environmental causes of breast cancer; and c) co-opts
or redirects women’s experiences of the disease by nar-
rowly defining possible responses, outcomes, and by
limiting appropriate activist repertoires.
Pinkwashing is ‘‘a term used to describe the activities of
companies and groups that position themselves as leaders
in the struggle to eradicate breast cancer while engaging
in practices that may be contributing to rising rates of the
The term is borrowed from the concept of
greenwashing, the practice whereby corporations or
businesses use green and eco-friendly marketing to ap-
peal to consumers, though the actual products, services,
and/or the companies’ overall business practices are
harmful to the environment.
Pinkwashing is detrimental
to American women and their families: Corporations
create (and profit from) consumers’ desire to ‘‘cure,’’ be-
come ‘‘aware,’’ or find solidarity while coping with breast
cancer, even while using carcinogens, hormone dis-
ruptors, and other toxic ingredients in the making of pink
Amy Lubitow is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Portland
State University, OR. Mia Davis is Organizing Director, Cam-
paign for Safe Cosmetics, in Boston, MA.
Sabrina McCormick. No Family History. (2007). <http://www>(Last accessed February 15, 2011).
Stacy Malkan. Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty
Industry. (New Society Publishers, 2007), 75.
Sharon Beder. Global Spin: The Corporate Assault on En-
vionmentalism. (Scribe, 2000).
Volume 4, Number 2, 2011
ªMary Ann Liebert, Inc.
DOI: 10.1089/env.2010.0026
products. These chemicals are rendered invisible by lack
of consumer knowledge, misleading or incomplete label-
ing, lack of transparency along the supply chain, and by
the marketing strategies that play to consumer emotions.
Worldwide, breast cancer affects more than 1 million
women every year, with women in industrialized nations
experiencing the highest rates of disease.
In the fifteen
years between 1973 and 2008, the incidence rate for
American women rose by more than 40 percent; today a
woman in the United States has a one in eight chance of
being diagnosed with the disease and nearly 40,000 wo-
men die each year.
Although diagnostics have improved
in the past four decades, increased diagnostic changes
cannot fully account for the four-fold increase in the
United States in such a short period of time.
Despite the widely held assumption that breast cancer
is genetic, no more than 1 in 10 women with breast cancer
has a genetic history of the disease.
Additionally, data
shows that less than 50 percent of all cases are related to
individual risk factors such as diet. The cultural percep-
tion that breast cancer is genetic obscures an under-
standing of how women of color, who tend to be
over-represented in communities that contain toxic waste
sites and industrial facilities, may face higher cancer risks
than white women. It has been suggested that the medical
establishment’s preoccupation with genetic disease fac-
tors exploits women of color in particular, fostering an
expectation of undergoing expensive genetic testing, de-
spite the fact that minority women may face a multitude
of risk factors that are directly related to their community
or workplace.
Interestingly, a person’s cancer risk in-
creases when she moves to a country with higher inci-
dence, suggesting that a woman’s local environment,
rather than her genes, is a significant predictor in whether
or not she will develop cancer.
Along with the reality that breast cancer is not simply
genetic, research indicates that environmental exposures
to toxic chemicals (through air, water, food, furniture,
cosmetics, plastics, cleaners, and workplace exposures)
are contributing factors in a large number of cancer
Disease and illness are mediated by social, en-
vironmental, and economic forces and breast cancer is no
exception; in the United States, African American women
are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, but are
20% more likely to die from the disease than white
And while the age of puberty in U.S. girls is
falling across the board, girls of color now reach puberty a
full year younger than do their white peers.
This phe-
nomenon has fairly clear and alarming cultural implica-
tions, but the health outcomes are less obvious: the longer
a woman is exposed to estrogen in her lifetime (or the
longer the span of time between puberty and meno-
pause), the greater her risk of developing breast cancer.
Differences in socioeconomic status, access to care, prox-
imity to toxic industries and institutionalized racism
within the medical field may all contribute to the dis-
parities in women’s experiences of breast cancer.
ever, this reality is rarely represented in mainstream
discussions of breast cancer and all but absent from cor-
porate depictions of breast cancer ‘‘survivors.’
The United States’ current approach to regulating
chemicals has been critiqued elsewhere.
Existing laws
have failed to assess for safety many thousands of che-
micals, resulting in countless chemicals and finished
products entering the market with little or no data on
their effect on human health or the environment. The
present regulatory paradigm fails to account for the syn-
ergistic effects that occur when numerous chemicals are
used in a product (which is nearly always the case).
since current regulation is based on the outdated theory
that the dose makes the poison, it has a limited capacity to
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ruary 15, 2011).
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Social Control for Black Women,’’ in Dangerous Intersections:
Feminist Perspectives on Population, Environment, and Development,
eds. Jael Sillman and Ynestra King. (South End Press, 1999), 242–
Sandra Steingraber. Living Downstream: A Scientist’s Personal
Investigation of Cancer and the Environment. (Vintage Books, 1997),
Gray. State of the Evidence.
Marcy Jane Knopf-Newman, ‘‘Public Eyes: Investigating the
Causes of Breast Cancer,’’ in New Perspectives on Environmental
Justice: Gender, Sexuality and Activism, ed. Rachel Stein. (Rutgers,
2004), 161–176.
Carles Muntaner, ‘‘The Bell Curve: On Race Social Class and
Epidemiologic Research.’American Journal of Epidemiology 144
(1996): 531–535.
Lisa Newman, James Mason, David Cote, et al., ‘‘American
ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and breast cancer survival.’’
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February 15, 2011).
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cessed February 11, 2011).
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screening and African American women: fear, fatalism, and si-
lence.’’ Oncology Nursing Forum 26 (1999): 561–71.; WJ Eley et al.,
‘‘Racial Differences in Survival From Breast Cancer: Results of the
National Cancer Institute Black/White Cancer Survival Study.’’
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Women and Breast Cancer: Notes from a Study of Narrative.’’
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Kepher et al., ‘‘Racial Discrimination and Breast Cancer Incidence
in US Black Women,’’ Journal of Epidemiology 166 (2007): 46–54.
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incorporate scientific findings that low dose exposures of
certain chemicals (e.g., hormone disrupting chemicals) are
more harmful because they mimic the body’s own pro-
duction and synthesis of hormones. There is mounting
evidence that many now ubiquitous chemicals can cause
harmful effects at very low doses—the levels currently
found in consumer goods
and in peoples’ bod-
Given the inadequacies found in chemical reg-
ulatory policies, many of the consumer goods that are
marketed with pink ribbons may contain chemical sub-
stances linked to breast cancer.
The practice of tying a product or brand to a cause has
the potential to raise money and awareness, which can be
very helpful for non-profit research and advocacy groups.
However, corporations often have the most to gain in this
supposedly symbiotic relationship, and can mislead
partners and consumers in the interest of increasing brand
recognition, image, loyalty, and ultimately profits.
Breast cancer is useful for corporate cause marketing
campaigns because it is a disease that many people are
intimately familiar with and it is associated with beloved
family members and friends. Breast cancer as a marketing
tool has few (if any) risks of alienating potential con-
sumers, unlike HIV/AIDS, poverty, obesity, or other
‘uncomfortable’’ epidemics. In addition, women control
somewhere between $0.70 and $0.85 of every household
dollar spent, so marketing in relation to women’s health is
a logical business move.
However, many corporations
that engage in breast cancer cause marketing actually
exacerbate the problem by contributing to environmental
causes of the disease—they use chemicals linked to cancer
and hormone disruption in the manufacture of their
Recently King noted that the public perception of
breast cancer has been transformed from a grassroots
struggle to secure research funding to a ‘‘chic’’ project for
wealthy elites and corporations, a shift which has allowed
corporate entities to largely dictate the public discourse
around breast cancer.
In fact, Cindy Schneible of the
Susan G. Komen Foundation, the self-proclaimed global
leader of the breast cancer movement, refers to the stra-
tegic management of breast cancer marketing noting,
‘We’re always looking for ways to engage consumers in
the breast-cancer cause by capturing them where they
live, work and play.’’
Schneible flips the oft-repeated
environmental justice concept on its head, applying the
language of grassroots environmental justice activism to
consumption-oriented behavior that is isolated from a
social movement community. Her comment suggests not
only that pink ribbons are omnipresent in American
women’s lives, but that consumer responses to breast
cancer should be seen as a viable means of engaging with
the ‘‘cause’’ of breast cancer.
In practice, this can be understood as what Jurgen
Habermas refers to as the colonization of the lifeworld
where the lifeworld represents the social and cultural
symbols and forms of language that support social
Habermas suggests that in an advanced
capitalist society, economic and political actors seeking to
maintain positions of power must rationalize their actions
through the creation of social or cultural norms that le-
gitimate their activities. Following his logic, pinkwashing
can be recognized as a practice whereby corporate actors
seek to legitimate their products via the creation of lan-
guage and imagery that obscures the often harmful nature
of some consumer products while simultaneously pro-
ducing a positive corporate image. Pinkwashing further
perverts this process when these pink ribbon products
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Investigation into Bisphenol A in Canned Foods. May 2010. <http://
Lining-Report.pdf>(Last accessed on August 10, 2010).
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Cosmetics, March 2009. <
toxictub>(Last accessed on August 10, 2010).
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Chemicals in Fragrance. Campaign for Safe Cosmetics May 2010.
<>(Last accessed Au-
gust 10, 2010).
Rebecca Sutton, ‘‘Adolescent exposures to cosmetic chemi-
cals of concern.’’ Environmental Working Group, September
2008. <>(Last accessed on
August 10, 2010).
Kathy Curtis and Bobbi Chase-Wilding, Is It In Us? Chemical
Contamination in Our Bodies. Commonweal Biomonitoring
Resource Center & Coming Clean Body Burden Workgroup,
November 2007. <
Is%20It%20In%20Us%20Report.pdf>(Last accessed August 10,
Environmental Working Group. Pollution in People: Cord
Blood Contaminants in Minority Newborns. 2009. <http://www>(Last
accessed on August 10, 2010).
JG Brody and RA Rudel, ‘‘Environmental Pollutants and
Breast Cancer: The Evidence from Animal and Human Studies,’’
Breast Diseases: A Year Book Quarterly 19 (2008): 17–19.
Malkan. Not Just a Pretty Face.
Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database search
of ‘‘Avon.’<¼169>(Ac-
cessed August 10, 2010). Search of ‘‘Estee Lauder’<http://
Lauder/>(Accessed August 10, 2010).
Boston Consulting Group.WomenWantMoreTheBook.
.aspx>(Last accessed February 15, 2011).
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ing to Women. <
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Samantha King, ‘‘Pink Ribbons Inc.: Breast Cancer Activism
and the Politics of Philanthropy,’’ International Journal of Politics in
Education 17 (2004): 473–492.
Stacey Stukin, ‘‘Pink Ribbon Promises.’Time Magazine (Oc-
tober 2006).
Jurgen Habermas, Legitimation Crisis. (Heinemann Educa-
tional Books, 1976).
actually contribute to the occurrence of (or inhibit the
treatment of ) breast cancer.
Thousands of products are now stamped with the
ubiquitous pink ribbon. From bottled water and snack
foods to clothing, iPod cases, shoes, batteries, KFC
buckets, and credit cards, ‘‘thinking pink’’ has become
nearly unavoidable. Barbara Ehrenreich, a social scientist
diagnosed with breast cancer in the late 1990s, has noted
that the space afforded to breast cancer now ‘‘bears a
striking resemblance to a mall.’’
One of the most poignant instances of pinkwashing is
the cosmetics giant Avon. The company launched the ‘‘Kiss
Goodbye to Breast Cancer’’ campaign in 2001 with a fun-
draising lipstick in six shades (Courageous Spirit, Crusade
Pink, Faithful Heart, Inspirational Life, Strength, and Tri-
Those lipsticks may have contained ingredients
that disrupt hormone functions (which is in turn linked to
breast cancer).
The use of hormone disruptors is not
uncommon in the cosmetics industry, and is not currently
prohibited by U.S. law.
Avon is one of the most recog-
nizable corporate entities participating in the breast cancer
awareness industry and according to the Massachusetts
Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC), more than 250 of Avon’s
products listed in a database assessing the health risks of
cosmetic products are listed in the ‘‘highest concern’’ cate-
gory due to the presence of hormone disruptors, neuro-
toxins, and possible carcinogens.
Avon and many other
companies fall back on the claim that ‘‘it’s just a little bit’’ of
carcinogen or hormone disruptor in a given product, de-
spite the fact that we are all exposed to more than one
product and to thousands of chemicals daily, and that low
doses of these chemicals are very concerning.
The corporate manipulation of pink ribbon imagery is
not only confined to tangible goods, but extends to phil-
anthropic activities as well. Between 2005 and 2008,
the cosmetic giant Avon raised over $265 million from the
country’s largest corporate-sponsored fundraiser, the
Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.
Although Avon proudly
announces on their website that they disperse the funds
raised to a variety of organizations nationwide, one-third
of the funds raised from these walks go toward Avon’s
own overhead. In fact, Massachusetts Breast Cancer
Coalition notes that the Boston Avon Walk has raised
millions of dollars, but less than two percent of those
funds have supported environmental research related to
preventing breast cancer in Massachusetts, despite the
high rates of breast cancer in that state, the need for more
research on disease causation, and the seemingly obvious
need to prevent the disease whenever possible, rather
than treating it after the fact.
Funds raised from breast cancer walks and runs un-
doubtedly serve to further treatment and early detection of
breast cancer (which saves more women’s lives). However,
corporate entities marketing to cancer patients and their
families develop brand loyalty, generate free advertising on
the part of women who participate, and discourage ques-
tions about the role of chemicals used consumer products
in cancer incidence. Philanthropic events and breast cancer
branding aim to legitimize the activities of corporations
(many of them major, international conglomerates), while
minimizing consumers’ abilities to recognize hazardous
products—already a difficult task when most consumers
assume that federal agencies are ensuring that chemicals
ingredients are safe for customers’ long term use.
Pinkwashing practices subvert the ongoing environ-
mental health discourse related to breast cancer, margin-
alizing debates and discussion over the causes of breast
cancer in favor of a dialogue focused on ‘‘the cure.’’ The
corporate practice of pinkwashing has interfered with the
public recognition of environmental causes of breast
cancer and creates significant barriers to better health
outcomes for women in the United States.
Despite a multitude of independent, peer-reviewed
scientific studies that find connections between environ-
mental toxins and increased rates of mammary tumors,
pinkwashing frames the scientific effort related to breast
cancer in terms of pharmaceutical interventions or treat-
ments that will, one day, cure women with the disease.
One specific way that this occurs is through the corporate
Elizabeth W. LaPensee, et al., ‘‘Bisphenol A at Low Nano-
molar Doses Confers Chemoresistance in Estrogen Receptor-a
Positive and –Negative Breast Cancer Cells.’’ Environmental
Health Perspectives 117 (2009), 175–80.
Barbara Ehrenreich, ‘‘Welcome to Cancerland.’Harper’s
(November 2001), 46.
The co-optation of the pink ribbon goes deep: the ‘‘awareness’’
ribbons, originally peach, started out as a grassroots campaign to
focus on prevention, until Estee Lauder and SELF magazine
stepped in with a cause-marketing campaign, and changed the
ribbon to a light, feminine pink. For more, read Sandy M. Fer-
nandez. Breast Cancer Action. History of the Pink Ribbon.
Malkan. Not Just a Pretty Face.
37, September 2001. <http://www>(Last ac-
cessed August 10, 2010).
Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database search
COLOR_RICH_Lipstick/>(Last Accessed on August 10, 2010).
Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database.
(Last accessed on February 11, 2011).
Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition. Frequently Asked
Questions. <¼169>(Last
accessed on February 15, 2011).
Avon Foundation. Avon Walks Make a Difference. <http://¼walk_how_
spent>(Last accessed on February 15, 2011).
MA Kettles et al., ‘‘Triazine herbicide exposure and breast
cancer incidence: An ecological study of Kentucky counties.’’
Environmental Health Perspectives 105 (1997):1222–1227.; M.
Munoz-de-Toro et al., ‘‘Perinatal exposure to bisphenol-A alters
peripubertal mammary gland development in mice,’’ En-
docrinology 146 (2005): 4138–4147.; LN Vandenberg et al., ‘‘Ex-
posure to environmentally relevant doses of the xenoestrogen
bisphenol-A alters development of the fetal mouse mammary
gland,’’ Endocrinology 148 (2007): 116–127.; CP Rennix et al., ‘‘Risk
of breast cancer among enlisted Army women occupationally
exposed to volatile organic compounds,’’ American Journal of In-
dustrial Medicine 48 (2005): 157–167.
sponsorship of breast cancer research.
Avon’s capacity
to raise millions of dollars for research also allows them to
dictate how and where that money is spent. In 2009, less
than seven percent of the $27.6 billion worth of funds
disbursed by Avon went to research investigating the
causes of breast cancer, environmental or otherwise. Of
that seven percent, less than two percent was spent on
understanding the environmental causes of the disease.
While allocating funds to care and treatment is hugely
important, understanding what causes the disease is
clearly essential to eradicating it.
The LOVE/Army of Women campaign launched by
Avon and Dr. Susan Love
has gone further to co-opt the
term ‘‘prevention.’’ As stated on the Web site: ‘‘While
advances have been made in the diagnosis and treatment
of breast cancer, we still don’t understand what causes
breast cancer or how to prevent it. The Dr. Susan Love
Research Foundation is dedicated to getting to where
breast cancer begins—in the breast ducts—and is engaged
in an extraordinary opportunity to focus research on the
anatomy of the breast and breast cancer prevention.’’ One
of the new projects of this campaign is ‘‘The development
of an inexpensive and easy to use band-aid-like test strip
that can assess whether a premenopausal woman is at
risk of developing breast cancer.’’ LOVE/Avon’s ‘‘pre-
vention’’ seems to be far more reliant on determining a
woman’s predisposition to the disease rather than
broadly examining the environmental links to this dis-
ease. In fact, the Web site rarely discusses environmental
exposures to cancer-causing chemicals—where, one could
argue, a large number of breast cancer instances really
But environmental links to cancer are getting more
attention in the mainstream—for the first time, in its
2008–2009 annual report, the President’s Cancer Panel
focused on the state of environmental cancer research,
and highlighted several impediments to controlling
cancer risk. Among them: a lack of emphasis on envi-
ronmental research as a primary mode of cancer pre-
vention, unequal exposures in some disadvantaged
populations, and the complexity of how low doses of
certain chemicals can act in our bodies during certain
windows of development (e.g., in the womb, in puber-
ty). In a letter preceding the groundbreaking report, the
panel urged the president to use the power of his office
‘‘to remove carcinogens and other toxins from our food,
water, and air that needlessly increase healthy care
costs, cripple our Nation’s productivity, and devastate
American lives.’
Races, walks, and fundraisers for the cure encourage
participants to focus on a future scenario in which breast
cancer becomes just another treatable disease. Women are
encouraged to endure while pharmaceutical companies
continue to search for medical solutions. What Ehrenreich
refers to as ‘‘bright-siding’’—the cultural compulsion to
think optimistically even in the face of great loss or
hardship—has muted discussions related to environ-
mental causation. Women are instead encouraged to look
on the bright side, to move forward without asking crit-
ical questions, which effectively quells the demand for
research on causation and prevention. Public events fo-
cused on raising funds to ‘‘fight’’ breast cancer, while
providing a sense of solidarity and purpose for many
women with breast cancer, also effectively silence expe-
riences that fall outside of the ‘‘valiant cancer-survivor’
The widespread corporate sponsorship of such events
has created the mainstream experience of breast cancer,
molding public perceptions and experiences of breast
cancer into a standard, pre-packaged experience: Someone
you love has breast cancer? Then buy pink, and walk with
others who are in the same boat, fighting cancer together. What
else can you do? Questions about disease causation, feel-
ings of anger, frustration, or sadness do not meld with the
dominant imagery of women who have conquered—or
must be made to feel that they can conquer—the disease.
Notably, this mainstream image is effectively a white,
middle class model which excludes women of color, who
are not only less likely to survive the disease than white
women, but who may not connect with the hegemonic
model of survivorhood that centers on fundraising walks
(some of which require $1,800 as a baseline for partici-
pation), and which are heavily populated by white
Thus, women’s time, energy, and passion are diverted
from efforts to prevent the disease and reduce its occur-
rence, and instead are focused on raising money (often by
spending money on pre-assigned pink ribbon products,
and cloaking themselves entirely in pink clothes with
corporate logos). Everyone is told to keep their eyes on
the prize: the elusive cure. This lost time and money, and
more importantly, the physical pain and emotional
hardship that families and communities endure with ev-
ery breast cancer diagnosis is not accounted for or hon-
ored when we seek only ‘‘the cure.’’
The social, medical, and cultural discourse surrounding
breast cancer is narrowly defined by the assumption that
for some percentage of American women, breast cancer is
inevitable, and that raising awareness and searching for a
cure are the primary mechanisms by which to overcome
this disease. This conception of breast cancer etiology
practically renders scientific debate over disease causation
obsolete; if the only goal is a cure, then prevention is not
important. The dominance of ‘‘the cure’’ paradigm is
In 2007 The Susan G. Komen Foundation reported that it had
invested nearly $1 billion in breast cancer since its founding in
Avon’s 2009 Approved Grants list search for any research
project studying the causes of breast cancer, including environ-
mental causes. <
avonfoundation/2009_grants.pdf>(Last accessed August 10,
LOVE/Army of Women. <>
(Last accessed July 27, 2010).
further entrenched when corporations market products—
some of which contain ingredients linked to cancer—and
direct philanthropic activities in the same direction,
thereby creating a unilateral understanding of the disease
that leaves little room for other endpoints or contrasting
viewpoints, including not only prevention, but the dis-
cussion of access to awareness-raising events and treat-
In order to overcome the dominance of this model,
scientific, economic, and cultural changes must occur.
Advocacy organizations are working to increase funding
for prevention, to study the environmental causes of the
disease, and to prohibit from everyday products chemi-
cals that are linked to cancer.
Advocates are also asking
hard questions about why women of color are less likely
to survive the disease, and are challenging the dominant
vision of breast cancer ‘‘survivorhood’’ by providing al-
ternative models and support systems that incorporate a
multiplicity of disease experiences. Changes in the mar-
ketplace can also contribute to dismantling a narrow
conception of breast cancer by developing and marketing
products that avoid the use of known carcinogens and
other toxic chemicals. The insistence by industry-funded
scientists that low doses of toxic chemicals pose no haz-
ard, and the current U.S. laws that place the burden of
proof on individuals rather than on chemical manufac-
turers producing the chemicals must come to light, and be
changed. Pinkwashing companies or any corporation
seeking to market products promoting women’s health
have an imperative to protect women’s health by elimi-
nating chemicals and practices linked to harm.
When as many as nine out of ten cases of breast cancer
are not genetic, and are not, as the current public dis-
course would lead us to believe, inevitable, the majority of
research, market ideology, and activist campaigns must
shift to preventing women from getting the disease
whenever possible, rather than treating women once they
have it. Dr. Sandra Steingraber, herself a scientist and
cancer survivor, calls on us to take a human rights ap-
proach to cancer: we need to recognize that when we
continue to allow the manufacture and release of carcin-
ogens into the environment and into our bodies, ‘‘some
number of vulnerable persons are consigned to death.’’
But there is a hopeful message here: when we shift this
paradigm and focus on prevention, women benefit, par-
ticularly those women who face unequal burdens of en-
vironmental exposures in their homes and workplaces.
Pinkwashing is problematic in that it displaces public
dialogue related to the social and environmental justice
implications of disease causation, and suggests that con-
sumer-oriented efforts are adequate in the pursuit of
ending breast cancer. In contrast, we would like to
suggest that a critical stance on corporate pinkwashing
is the first step in addressing ongoing racial disparities
in relation to breast cancer and is a necessary element
in the effort reduce cancer incidence and mortality
Address correspondence to:
Amy Lubitow
Portland State University
P.O. Box 751
Portland, OR 97207
Advocacy organizations focused on prevention include
Breast Cancer Action, Breast Cancer Fund, Campaign for Safe
Cosmetics, Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, Safer Chemi-
cals Healthy Families coalition, and others.
Sandra Steingraber. Living Downstream, 268.
... Jedną z kluczowych klasyfikacji, odnoszącą się do relacji z interesariuszami, jest ta wyróżniająca komunikację jednokierunkową, dwukierunkową asymetryczną i dwukierunkową symetryczną. Podział ten zaproponowali Mette Morsing i Majken Schultz (2006, s. [323][324][325][326][327][328][329][330][331][332][333][334][335][336][337][338], bazując na uznanej teorii modeli public relations Jamesa E. Gruniga i Todda Hunta z lat 90. XX w. ...
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Monografia poświęcona jest sprawozdawczym i pozasprawozdawczym narzędziom komunikowania się z interesariuszami zewnętrznymi. W części teoretycznej omówiono istotę i znaczenie komunikacji CSR oraz przedstawiono szeroki wachlarz narzędzi, które mogą być wykorzystane w tym procesie. W części empirycznej opisano i oceniono wykorzystanie obu kategorii narzędzi przez cztery spółki, których siedziby główne znajdują się w Trójmieście.
... We extend that argument to claim that elite concentration occurs even in ostensibly (but illusory) collaborative processes, such as co-production, in which persistent power imbalances are obscured by discourses about equity and equality in knowledge-production. These structures ultimately serve an elite discourse on its own terms and offer a means for the power-knowledge nexus to deepen its hegemony by coopting counter-hegemonic narratives (examples of which are the critically labelled processes of 'greenwashing' (Delmas and Burbano, 2011;Laufer, 2003), 'pinkwashing' (Lubitow and Davis, 2011), and 'human rights washing' (Kuecker, 2014a). ...
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This Element explores the uncertain future of public policy practice and scholarship in an age of radical disruption. Building on foundational ideas in policy sciences, we argue that an anachronistic instrumental rationalism underlies contemporary policy logic and limits efforts to understand new policy challenges. We consider whether the policy sciences framework can be reframed to facilitate deeper understandings of this anachronistic epistemic, in anticipation of a research agenda about epistemic destabilization and contestation. The Element applies this theoretical provocation to environmental policy and sustainability, issues about which policymaking proceeds amid unpredictable contexts and rising sociopolitical turbulence that portend a liminal state in the transition from one way of thinking to another. The Element concludes by contemplating the fate of policy's epistemic instability, anticipating what policy understandings will emerge in a new system, and questioning the degree to which either presages a seismic shift in the relationship between policy and society.
... Bluewashing is a fairly new phenomenon and research is rather difficult to discern due to a lack of standardized terminology and fuzzy boundaries. For example, some authors use alternative terminology, such as "corporate hypocrisy" [57] or "CSR-washing" [20], which, besides greenwashing and bluewashing, also covers other issues, including pinkwashing (in reference to breast cancer awareness) [58]. Other authors prefer the term "socialwashing" [59] to clearly set the issue apart from environmental matters. ...
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Growing awareness of the fashion industry’s negative impact on people and the environment has led to considerable growth of the sustainable fashion market. At the same time, Black Friday purchases increase annually as the sales event develops into a global phenomenon. As sustainable fashion brands are choosing to participate in the event, many communicate their offers via the social media platform Instagram. To gain a competitive advantage and maintain their sustainable corporate images, some brands use greenwashing and/or bluewashing strategies. The first part of this study explores which strategies were employed in Instagram content posted by sustainable brands, using quantitative and qualitative content analysis. We propose a research-based model of nine greenwashing/bluewashing strategies. The second part of the study examines predictive factors for consumer evaluations of Black Friday ads by sustainable brands, using an online survey and a stepwise multiple regression analysis. Findings show that consumers’ critical attitude towards Black Friday and high ad skepticism predict positive evaluations while sustainable purchase behavior predicts negative evaluations. These insights suggest that ‘sustainable’ Black Friday campaigns may appeal to consumers who show a general concern for the environment and issues of social sustainability, but not to those who exhibit actual sustainable behavior.
... In case of impossibility to repay the loan, the creditor and the whole household falls into the 'debt trap'. The company acts in an environment where increased implementation of social responsibility in manage ment is needed (Pavlík and Bělčík, 2010) If a company does not address the social re sponsibility of its business, and pretends to be CSR, it is the socalled pretended ethics, which is most often called unethical pinkwashing (some 'Pinkwashing' of Social Responsibility at Non-banking Institutions in Czech Republic times the terms white-washing, blue-washing, green-washing) (Lubitow & Davis, 2011). Using quantitative methods for ethics and CSR are diffi cult to measure. ...
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Presented paper refers about the analysis results at Non-Bank Consumer Credit Providers (NBCCPs) and Non-banking Financial Institutions (NBFIs) operating in the Czech Republic, which lend non-bank loans to households. The presented issues concern social responsibility of companies and pretended ethics, which is called usually as pinkwashing. Research has examined the relationship among four aspects — number of CSR instruments, registered address and branches in Czech regions, financial turnover (2019) and increased cost (penalty) for one real loan (measured in November 2020). Data for the research were obtained from open source state institutions, individual companies and current social and financial research. The conclusion of the analysis states that there is a tendency for pinkwashing management of social responsibility. This tendency is non-linear. Pinkwashing is reflected in the fact that a higher number of CSR instruments are available to those companies that have a higher financial turnover, registered address in Prague and provide loans via on-line with a lower share of corporate branches in the regions. At the same time, these companies have a lower level of increased extra cost (penalty) for individual loans. The socially responsible behavior of the examined institutions is tied to the financial turnover. The higher financial turnover means a higher degree of implementation of social responsible instruments. This fact is accompanied by empirical research by the author. Because it is a dynamically changing business environment, the article presents the development trends in the researched sector. The article introduces the terminology ‘pinkwashing’ into the Czech academical environment, which is gradually establishing itself in the research area of CSR management.
... The debate on the capacity of capitalism to subsume and downsize critical voices has already identified specific ideological strategies such as the operations of pinkwashing (Lubitow and Davis, 2011) and greenwashing (Dauvergne and LeBaron, 2014), to which veganwashing [6] can be added, aimed at increasingly emphasizing the potentiality of a normalized vegan IJSSP consumption within the capitalist hegemony (Bertuzzi, 2020). An example is represented by the diffusion of vegan alternatives among some fast-food chains such as McDonald's, Burger King or KFC, symbols of modern capitalism and also of meat-based consumption: they were nevertheless awarded in recent years the prize assigned by the animal welfare association Companion in World Farming (CIWF), for their efforts in animal welfare. ...
Purpose The study aims to investigate a relevant topic, but still underestimated by sociological studies: animal advocacy, namely, the organized interest in non-human animals' life, rights and well-being. The Italian case is discussed, with a twofold objective: to highlight the evolution of some repertoires of contention and to use this study to analyze the changes of contemporary collective mobilizations and their relation with the modernization process. Design/methodology/approach The analysis is based on an online survey (704 responses nationwide), 24 semi-structured interviews with relevant members of groups and associations and a protest event analysis. Furthermore, a vast empirical archive and some academic studies concerning Italian animal advocacy in its historical dimension have been consulted. Findings The paper underlines the current specificities of Italian animal advocacy, compared to past decades. The great importance assumed by personal action frames and repertoires of contention emerged as characterizing elements. Activism is always more individual and less related to collective organizations: the central role of veganism and of the internet as protest tool is underlined. Both the increasing possibilities offered by better discursive opportunities structure, but also the possible incorporation of more radical frames within consumer market dynamics emerged from the interviews and the survey. Originality/value The phenomenon of animal advocacy (and, more generally, the activities of contemporary social movements) is contextualized within some typical characteristics of modernity, looking both at structural “opportunities” (e.g.: the diffusion of post-materialist values) and “constraints” (e.g.: veganwashing operations). Based on previous definitions coming from social movements studies and following a debate hosted by this journal, the role of collective organizations and especially the centrality assumed by individual activism is critically analyzed, evaluating the new possibilities, but also the possible negative sides. Not only cultural changes, but also political and legal contexts matter. In this sense, both a focus on Italy and more general reflections on western modernities are proposed, trying to go beyond animal advocacy and reflecting on social movements and collective mobilizations more widely.
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Diversity ist als Begriff und Konzept allgegenwärtig. Während es zunächst darum ging, die Interessen sozial benachteiligter Gruppen zu berücksichtigen, sollte Diversity Management auch dazu beitragen, die vielfältigen Leistungen und Erfahrungen unterschiedlicher Menschen als Potenzial zu begreifen und zu nutzen. Doch kann die alltägliche Praxis des Diversity Managements diese originären Ziele noch halten – und konnte sie es je? Johanna Degen analysiert aus kritisch-sozialpsychologischer Perspektive die gelebte Praxis in der deutschen Wirtschaft anhand von Expert:inneninterviews. Durch die Auswertung subjektiver Erfahrungen von Vorständ:innen, CEOs, Manager:innen, Arbeitnehmer:innen und Arbeitssuchenden wird deutlich, dass das ausgeübte Diversity Management nurmehr – wenig überraschend – organisationale und kapitalistische Interessen schützt. Die Autorin zeigt darüber hinaus auf, wie Gruppendynamiken entstehen, in denen letzten Endes die Subjekte auf sich selbst zurückgeworfen werden und gezwungen sind, sich von den eigenen Werten und vom Problemgegenstand der sozialen Ungleichheit zu entfremden. Durch die Fokussierung auf die Frage, warum Diversity Management so nicht funktionieren kann, werden zugleich auch Lösungsrichtungen verdeutlicht.
This research seeks to shed light on perceived brand authenticity as it relates to LGBTQ stakeholders. Through in-depth interviews, this study centers the voices of LGBTQ practitioners to explore perceived brand authenticity. The empirical purpose of this study is exploratory: to gain a better understanding of perceived brand authenticity of LGBTQ marketing, as well as its drivers and consequences. The practical purpose of this study provides insights for both scholars and practitioners, suggesting methods for engaging in meaningful LGBTQ brand communication. Drawing from extant research, this article grounds its exploration in four dimensions of perceived brand authenticity: credibility, integrity, symbolism, and continuity. The article then identifies the prominence of skepticism in working with historically marginalized groups and proposes adding a fifth dimension: representativeness.
Aims Most randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in oncology are now funded by the pharmaceutical industry. We explore the extent to which RCT design, results and interpretation differ between industry-funded and non-industry-funded RCTs. Materials and methods In this cross-sectional analysis, a structured literature search was used to identify all oncology RCTs published globally during 2014–2017. Industry funding was identified based on explicit statements in the publication. Descriptive statistics were used to compare elements of trial methodology and output between industry- and non-industry-funded RCTs. Results The study sample included 694 RCTs; 71% were funded by industry. Industry-funded trials were more likely to test systemic therapy (97% versus 62%; P < 0.001), palliative-intent therapy (71% versus 41%; P < 0.001) and study breast cancer (20% versus 12%; P < 0.001). Industry-funded trials were larger (median sample size 474 versus 375; P < 0.001) and more likely to meet their primary end point (49% versus 41%; P < 0.001). Among positive trials, there were no differences in the magnitude of benefit between industry- and non-industry-funded RCTs. Trials funded by industry were published in journals that had a significantly higher median impact factor (21, interquartile range 7, 28) than non-industry-funded trials (impact factor 12, interquartile range 5, 24; P = 0.005); this persisted when adjusted for whether a trial was positive or negative. Conclusions The vast majority of oncology RCTs are now funded by industry. Industry-funded trials are larger, more likely to be positive, predominantly test systemic therapies in the palliative setting and are published in higher impact journals than trials without industry support.
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The incidence of breast cancer in the United States has steadily increased for the past three decades. Exposure to excess estrogen, in both natural and synthetic forms, has been implicated as a risk factor for the development of this disease. Considerable interest has been focused on organochlorines, such as the triazine herbicides, and their possible role in the initiation or promotion of human breast cancer. To explore this relationship, an ecologic study of Kentucky counties was designed. Exposure to triazines was estimated by use of water contamination data, corn crop production, and pesticide use data. A summary index of triazine herbicide exposure was developed to classify counties into low, medium, or high exposure levels. Data on county breast cancer rates were obtained from the state registry. A Poisson regression analysis was performed, controlling for age, race, age at first live birth, income, and level of education. Results revealed a statistically significant increase in breast cancer risk with medium and high levels of triazine exposure [odds ratio (OR) = 1.14,p<0.0001 and OR = 1.2, p<0.0001, respectively]. The results suggest a relationship between exposure to triazine herbicides and increased breast cancer risk, but conclusions concerning causality cannot be drawn, due to the limitations inherent in ecologic study design. Images Figure 1. Figure 2.
Objective. —To examine the ability of recognized prognostic factors for breast cancer to account for the observed poorer survival in blacks compared with their white counterparts. Design and Participants. —Subjects included 1130 women (612 blacks and 518 whites) aged 20 to 79 years residing in metropolitan Atlanta, Ga, New Orleans, La, or San Francisco/Oakland, Calif, who were diagnosed with primary invasive breast cancer. Information on stage, tumor characteristics, treatment, comorbid conditions, and sociodemographic factors was obtained from personal interview, physician and hospital records, and a pathology review of biopsy and surgical specimens. Main Outcome Measure. —Multivariable survival models were used to estimate the hazard ratio (relative risk of mortality) for blacks compared with whites, adjusting for various combinations of potential explanatory factors. Results. —After controlling for geographic site and age, the risk of dying was 2.2 times (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.8 to 2.8) greater for blacks than whites. Adjustment for stage reduced the risk from 2.2 to 1.7; further adjustment for sociodemographic variables had no effect. Treatment was not a contributing factor once stage and tumor pathology were in the model. After adjusting for stage, treatment, comorbid illness, and pathologic and sociodemographic variables, blacks continued to demonstrate a slightly increased, but not statistically significant, risk of death (hazard ratio=1.3; 95% CI, 1.0 to 1.8). Results were similar for all-cause mortality and breast cancer—specific mortality. Conclusions. —Approximately 75% of the racial difference in survival was explained by the prognostic factors studied. Sociodemographic variables appeared to act largely through racial differences in stage at diagnosis, which may be amenable to change through improved access to and use of screening for black women. ( JAMA . 1994;272:947-954)
This essay explores the cultural reconfiguration of breast cancer in the United States since the 1970s. It traces how breast cancer has been transformed in public discourse from a stigmatized disease best dealt with privately and in isolation, to a neglected epidemic worthy of public debate and political organizing, to an enriching and affirming experience during which women with the disease are rarely ‘patients’ and mostly ‘survivors.’ In the latter of these configurations, survivors emerge as symbols of hope who through their courage and vitality have elicited an outpouring of philanthropy, a continued supply of which will apparently ensure that the fight against breast cancer remains an unqualified success. By examining three key sites in this shift—federal policy, breast cancer marketing and the Susan G. Komen Foundation's Race for the Cure—the essay seeks to understand how, and with what effects, this transformation has occurred.
I work in a think tank, so perhaps it is not surprising that I am suggesting that we all think a little harder about how positive psychology could be a force for (positive) social change. The main question that we are seeking to address at the centre for well-being at nef (the new economics foundation) is what policy making and the economy would look like if their main aim were to promote well-being. In doing so, probably the key thing we aim to achieve is to make an impact whilst simultaneously being robust and grounded in evidence. We want to make a difference – a difference to people’s lives both now and in the future.
To explore the beliefs, attitudes, and practices related to breast cancer and breast cancer screening among low- and middle-income African American women. Qualitative study using focus group methodology. 26 African American women, age 40-65, selected from three employment groups, recruited from a community-based center and a local teacher's union in a moderate-sized urban area. Three 90-minute focus group discussions exploring breast cancer beliefs, attitudes, and practices were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using thematic context analysis techniques. When breast cancer was discussed, fear was the predominant feeling expressed in all groups. This fear was a primary reason not to engage in breast cancer screening. Unemployed women and service workers emphasized the role of violence in causing breast cancer, whereas teachers discussed injury and sex as causing breast cancer. All participants stressed that breast cancer is seldom discussed within the African American community. Teachers added that this secrecy within the African American community leads to breast cancer being viewed as a white woman's disease. Despite initiatives promoting breast cancer awareness. African American women still hold misconceptions regarding the etiology of breast cancer and fatalistic perspectives regarding breast cancer outcomes, perhaps because breast cancer is discussed infrequently. Because pain, fear, and fatalism were discussed in all groups, future research should address the influence of these factors to increase screening behaviors. Because unemployed women, service workers, and teachers differed in their beliefs about breast cancer and breast cancer screening, nurses must be mindful of the need to tailor Interventions to address the needs of both low- and middle-income African American women.
Survival after breast cancer and after all cancers is significantly worse for African American women than for others. Although many reasons have been proposed, no studies have explored the reception of messages about breast cancer by African American survivors of this disease, and how public images and discourses about breast cancer affects both their perceived risk for this disease and their experiences of illness. Narrative accounts of their lived experiences with breast cancer were collected from 23 African American survivors of breast cancer. Three themes have emerged: (a) Breast cancer is perceived to be a white woman's disease; (b) cancer is caused by experiences of repeated traumatic heartbreak; and finally, (c) there is a perceived lack of social support and understanding for the unique life experiences of the African American survivor of breast cancer. Nurses are on the front line of patient care. In the context of the managed care environment, they spend more time with patients than other health care providers and are soundboards for many patient concerns. As such, they can use the information provided in this study to inform high-risk women, current patients, partners, and other individuals in the medical community of how African American women might inaccurately access their personal risks for breast cancer, despite the public emphasis on this disease. Through the use of culturally sensitive pamphlets, nurses and other medical practitioners can also open discussions with underserved and minority patients as a means of realistically addressing some of these women's fears about breast cancer. These fears are barriers to effective cancer prevention because these individuals may consciously or unconsciously link a diagnosis of breast cancer, or even behaviors related to cancer prevention, to a potential death sentence.