Recently, I went to Ulta for some new makeup. As soon as I got out of my car in the parking lot and started walking toward the store., I realized, Oh. It’s October. Ulta’s “gone pink.”
You know what time it is! Time for magazines and blogs like this one to round up All the Pink Things and encourage you to “go pink” and do some good for women’s health.
It’s breast cancer awareness month, so the time has come to buy All The Pink Things. You see, buying pink things will end breast cancer. The commercialization of breast cancer grows every year and beauty products, which are primarily marketed to women, are a huge part of the problem.
This year OPI is marketing two polishes for breast cancer: You Glitter Be Good to Me (“You totally deserve this hopeful pink glitter”) and I Think in Pink (“You think, therefore you are…sure to love this dreamy sheer pink”). All their marketing materials say OPI has donated $25,000 to the Susan G. Komen foundation which is nice and all (assuming that the Komen foundation has decided to stop acting like a bunch of menstrual cramps after their fall from grace last year), but their donation actually has nothing to do with this nail polish. Buying it? Isn’t contributing a dime. Why not spend the $10 you would have spent on that and donate it directly to a reputable organization? Not only will you actually be supporting breast cancer, you can avoid supporting a product with an asinine product description and a name that makes your teeth hurt.
Meanwhile, Sephora has a whole host of pink products, yet few of them list information about how much money will be donated from the sale of each product or what organization will receive the money. I mean, if you were already planning to buy a Clarisonic, fine — get the pink one. But don’t spend $150 on a product because it claims to support breast cancer; if they really supported breast cancer, why haven’t they bothered to say a damn thing about the cause? Sephora’s $20 manicure tool set (“Support breast cancer awareness with perfectly manicured fingers and toes, thanks to this set of nail-tending tools adorned with BCA pink”) isn’t pricey, but again, Who is being supported and how? How do my cuticles have any bearing on that?
Let me be clear: I don’t have a problem supporting a good cause. Hell, I don’t even have a problem buying crap I don’t need. But I do have a problem buying crap I don’t need on the premise that I’m making a difference, when only a tiny portion of the profits are actually being used for the cause, and I’m not even clear on how it will be used for the cause. Is it for research? What kind? Will my pitiful donation keep drug companies busy making expensive drugs that women have to take daily? Or will it help find a way to keep people from getting sick in the first place?
And a product doesn’t have to be pink to be helpful. Rather than drop a bunch of cash on pink swag at Ulta, I could spend that money on a workout DVD or a healthy cookbook for my mom. But it’s hard to do a self-breast exam when your nails are wet with your new pink glitter polish. And it’s easy to be blinded by all the pretty pink versions of things we probably wouldn’t buy if they were a different color and waste our resources collecting stuff we don’t need, that don’t really benefit anyone but corporations.
For more information on taking a critical look at breast cancer awareness products and breast cancer foundations, check out Think Before You Pink and add “Pink Ribbons, Inc.” to your Netflix queue. And don’t forget to examine your breasts this month and every month going forward!