Pretty in pink
In the early 1990s, a woman named Charlotte Haley, the granddaughter, sister, and mother of women who had battled breast cancer, began making peach ribbons by hand. She passed out thousands of ribbons with a card that read: “The National Cancer Institute annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.”
The word spread and Haley was asked by corporations and media outlets for permission to feature her ribbon and message, but she declined, believing they were too corporate. Self magazine persisted, and based on Self’s lawyer’s insistence that they change the color of the ribbon, the pink ribbon was born. In conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October 1992, cosmetics giant Estée Lauder shared the pink ribbon—a new symbol of hope and strength for those facing breast cancer—through its nationwide cosmetics counters for the first time.
Shades of pink
In addition to the pastel pink most people have come to recognize, breast cancer ribbons come in a variety of hues: hot pink for inflammatory breast cancer, teal and pink for both hereditary and gynecologic cancers, pink and blue for male breast cancer, and teal, pink, and green for metastatic breast cancer.
Examples of different breast cancer pink ribbons
Since 1992, breast cancer organizations across the globe have created and trademarked their own pink ribbons to honor their work and the people they serve. Below is a sampling of the various pink ribbons used by breast cancer organizations around the world.
Examples of different breast cancer organizations’ pink ribbons
Over time, the pink ribbon has evolved from a humble peach ribbon handmade by Charlotte Haley to a powerful symbol of breast cancer awareness and support. Its journey from grassroots activism to global recognition showcases a collective effort to raise awareness and support for those facing breast cancer. As we don this symbol of hope, we unite in our shared commitment to a brighter future for the breast cancer community.
Candace Day, Senior Marketing Manager at NBCF, says, “The pink ribbon symbolizes hope and community for many who’ve been impacted by breast cancer. We are incredibly proud to share the message of breast cancer awareness and support not just during October but every day of the year.”
Read more about different types and colors of cancer awareness ribbons.