Pink: Infant Girls, Komen’s Marketing Machine & Gifts from God

Photo courtesy of aceshot1 /
Photo courtesy of aceshot1 /
Jessica Gottlieb
Jessica Gottlieb

It’s no secret, I’ve never respected the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation. I’ve come to loathe October and the pinkwashing that comes along with it.

Everyone from NPR and the New York Daily News to Jezebel and MOMocrats has a story covering the fact that Planned Parenthood has lost its funding from Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. As a result, many thousands of low-income and uninsured American women – upwards of 170,000 of them – will have to go without clinical breast exams and mammograms.

In the New York Daily News, Jill Flipovic astutely points out that that it’s easy for the Komen foundation to politically alienate the women who rely on the services of Planned Parenthood. Let’s be frank, if they can’t afford to see a doctor they probably don’t have tons of time to campaign actively.

It’s worth noting that Karen Handel is the Vice President of Public Policy at the Komen Foundation and a self described pro-life Christian whose failed run for governor of Georgia included a call for the end of abortions. Her education in the sciences ended in high school.

The Komen Foundation has never been a friend to women and this latest move should surprise no one. I’ve found their multimillion dollar three day circle jerk party to be detestable.

First of all, who wears pink? Baby girls wear pink. We’re women for crying out loud. How about a grown up color? They could have picked anything in the world but it had to be pink, the color of nurseries everywhere.

Secondly, the only reason that this ridiculous party planning group was able to get the attention of corporations was because talking about breast cancer gave them permission to talk about tits. Tee hee, marketing geniuses in boardrooms rubbed their hands together Daddy Warbucks style, everyone loves boobs, women will want to save them and men do too.

The harsh reality of breast cancer is that women lose breasts but keep their lives. Komen has given birth to spinoffs like Save the TaTas… which leave me speechless. Heaven forbid we Save the Women.

The Komen Foundation has famously sued other non profits who use the terminology “for the cure.” This should make everyone question if this is a foundation that’s lost it’s way or if it was never interested in a cure.

Who at the Susan G. Komen foundation thought it was a good idea to slap some pink on buckets at KFC? How does a partnership with KFC help women’s health? Is KFC directly linked to breast cancer? No. Indirectly? It appears to be.

The Susan G. Komen foundation has brought us pinkwashing, inflated corporate salaries, three day parties and a pat on the head that makes women feel like they’re doing something good.

If you want to give to charity may I suggest you give to charity? Komen didn’t ever DO anything. They spent less than 20% of their $330 MILLION budget on trying to find a cure (their stated mission that was worthy of lawsuits). If you want to see women in your area have access to mammograms give money to a local women’s non profit, it may be Planned Parenthood, and by all means if you decide to give money to Planned Parenthood do to in honor of Karen Handel like my friend Donna did.

To be fair and clear, quite a few people are happy about the fact that the Komen Marketing Machine no longer funds breast exams through Planned Parenthood. After Republican Presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum told CNN’s Pier Morgan that rape victims who get pregnant by their attacker should accept the babies as gifts from God, “Women for Santorum” made a wonderful video explaining the myriad of benefits that a staunch Pro-Life America could provide.

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Jessica Gottlieb is a blogger in Los Angeles. You can also follow her on Twitter (@JessicaGottlieb).


  1. So well put. Thank you for the succinct synopses not only the current controversy, but the big picture regarding Komen’s success (and lack thereof).

  2. The pinking of a disease that scars and kills has always baffled me. But it has never surprised me that women were so easily diverted from the outrage and righteous anger from the movement’s early days. We are so easily seduced by princess culture, and we really don’t want to believe that the cosmetic and toiletry industry is probably part of the reason some of us get breast cancer in the first place. How those companies must have cackled as they gleefully slapped pink ribbons on their products. First they profit by giving us cancer and then they profit again by selling us their concern via charity.

    And the focus on saving our breasts rather than our lives? Why did we/still do buy into that?

    Well said, Jessica. Sharing this.

  3. Oh, I LOATHE the pink-washing too! Except in football, I think that’s good for them to have pink stuff on. This goes into anytime I’m asked for money from someone on the street, in front of a grocery store, in my neighborhood. If I want my money to go somewhere, I’ll take it there directly instead of hoping that’s what that person does with the money.

    Komen is certainly teaching others that lesson now, and Planned Parenthood will hopefully get money straight to them to keep helping women with mammograms, and the Komen people will learn their lesson.
    I’ve been wondering what a decision like this would do for all of the pinkwashing products- will there be less this year if this isn’t resolved?

    Like buying that $15 lipstick actually helps someone. Donate the $15 directly and really make a difference.

  4. You bring up a lot of great points and I agree with you for the most part BUT I am a grown ass woman and I love the color pink. I see nothing wrong with wearing it or using it as often as I do. Also, let’s not let folks think that the Komen foundation came up with the pink ribbon. They would like to take credit but it was Evelyn Lauder and Alexander Penney that came up with the pink ribbon. Komen just acts like it was their idea and profits from it.

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