Last year I had a hilarious conversation with my young adult daughters about the Save the Tatas campaign that swamps college campuses every year. They were weary of pink ribbons.
“I’m tired of T-shirts that say Save the Tatas in pink, as if wearing them helps women with cancer.”
“I’m tired of pink foam beer holders!”
“I’m tired of people posting their bra color on Facebook, it’s lascivious!”
Excellent vocabulary, wouldn’t you agree? Yay for those college educations!
I chimed in with my own exasperations. “I’m tired of seeing pink ribbons sprinkled on the grocery store shelves, as if buying a particular canned soup helps women with breast cancer. I’m tired of treating a certain brand of yogurt as if it’s an act of charity. I’d like to see some purple ribbons, because what about pancreases? They get cancer too.”
We laughed. It’s not that we don’t care about women with breast cancer — far from it. We’ve made our donations to the Race for a Cure. They’ve done the all-night walk around the football field to raise pledges. We support women and we support healthcare.
I am old enough to remember a time when breast cancer was hush-hush and I’m glad those days are over. But honestly they are long over! The world has gone from silencing the word “breast” to slapping pink ribbons on everything. I’ve always hated it when an easy use of symbols becomes a substitute for the hard truth the symbols represent.
The point of fighting breast cancer isn’t titillation! The point is to support healthcare for women who need it. The big weapon in that arsenal is breast cancer screening. You’d think that would be front and center at all times in this conversation.
Now this. The Susan G. Komen foundation will no longer provide funding to Planned Parenthood for clinical breast exams and mammograms. In simple facts, that means that low-income women will be unable to access those funds to ensure their breast health.
This is disturbing on two levels: 1) the foundation has apparently lost its moorings, forgetting it’s most important mission because of politics; 2) I have always been a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood. I will be forever grateful for the free and low-cost healthcare I received there as a young adult. PP made a positive difference in my life.
Perhaps we should have known the Komen dynasty would fall. Is it a victim of it’s own success? When an organization trivializes it’s most powerful symbols, it is telling the world it has begun to decline. When an organization becomes very powerful, with lots of money and political clout, the decline can gather much steam! The church is forever re-learning this truth. Now the world of pink must learn it.
I won’t be making any more contributions to Susan G. Komen, and will instead give the money directly to Planned Parenthood. I hope you’ll do the same!
Ta-ta, Save the Tatas!