The ribbon, breast cancer survivors and their supporters know, is a visible declaration of the fight that still rages on. The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation first used the breast cancer ribbon in 1991 to participants in its annual fundraising event "Race for the Cure." Prior to the ribbon, the foundation handed out pink visors to the participants of the event, yet with the growing popularity of the ribbon movement for a variety of causes, it only made sense to also have a ribbon for this purpose.
Of course, the breast cancer ribbon did not just gain popularity overnight, and it was in 1992 that the editor in chief of Self magazine ran a story about a lady by the name of Charlotte Haley, whose entire family was embroiled in the battle against breast cancer throughout the generations. Mrs. Haley was manufacturing handmade peach colored ribbons which she handed out in front of grocery stores, libraries and at the bus stations in her neighborhood. Her message was alarmingly simple; it advised the reader that the national cancer institute's annual budget was about $1.8 billion, and of this amount of money only about five percent were actually earmarked for cancer prevention. She led the battle cry to let legislators know that this is not enough, and the ribbon was to be the message that would make the politicians to stop in their tracks. Unfortunately, the ribbon, breast cancer, and the magazine did not seem to get on too well in the beginning. As a matter of fact, Mrs. Haley did not want to commercialize her idea and also did not want to surrender her idea to the magazine. Self magazine was undeterred and instead chose to come up with another ribbon color: pink.
This may very well have been the actual birth date of the ribbon; breast cancer awareness has never been the same since. In conjunction with Estée Lauder Corporation, Self magazine's breast cancer ribbon, clip on, and overall ribbon design has shaped the not only the color of the ribbon, breast cancer awareness, and fundraising efforts, but because of the easily recognizable ribbon, breast cancer has come to the forefront of the public's mind. Women of all ages now know that the breast cancer ribbon, clip on, or any other item that displays the symbol is not only a reminder to help fund the fight for a cure, but that it is a very real and very life saving reminder to do monthly breast self-checks, and also to not postpone or simply put off the annual doctor's appointment. Naturally, the pink ribbon soon became a celebrity cause, and many companies sought to cash in on the ribbon's popularity. Opinions are divided whether this is a good or bad result; some find it hard to swallow that big business is using the ribbon to market its products, albeit donating hefty portions of the proceeds. Others think more of the financial aspects and don't really care who markets what with the symbol, as long as profits are donated to the cause. The truth quite possibly lies somewhere in the middle, but in the meantime, the ribbon is a reminder, fundraising tool, and overall awareness builder. Wear it!