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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: How to Avoid Pinkwashing This October

As many of us know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Here at Brilliantly, breast cancer awareness is a cause near and dear to everything we stand for.

However, it’s important to acknowledge what we see happening way too often this time of year.

Although we know the intention behind this month is rooted in supporting those impacted by breast cancer—in recent years the message has been getting drowned by marketing tactics.

The whole purpose of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to advance breast cancer research and support those impacted by the illness.

However, many companies now use it as a marketing ploy to “pinkwash” their brands.

There are far too many brands that will create “pink” marketing campaigns, but won’t actually do their part in supporting any significant progress in advancing breast cancer research or advocacy.

By “pinkwashing” brands, businesses are able to appeal to consumers by making them believe they’re supporting the cause. However, so many of these campaigns don’t actually do anything to support the advancement of breast cancer research.

Here at Brilliantly, we’ve chosen to take part in “Reclaiming October” effort started by our good friends over at @hiphop_happyhour

We encourage you to read up on the history of pinkwashing and how it works today. Then, share your knowledge with others by sharing your thoughts online and encouraging people to support reputable organizations. Also remember to join organizations that work to end pinkwashing. These groups will help you stay informed and take action when necessary.

We are dedicated to taking back ownership of October and using it to actually progress breast cancer research and advocacy.

Checkout this Instagram post by @hiphop_happyhour to learn more about how you can support Reclaim October.

How can you avoid “pinkwashing”?

Pinkwashing refers to companies that use misleading marketing campaigns to appear sensitive to breast cancer causes—when in reality they’re not doing much to support the cause at all.

The reason behind this is simple: driving in business.

Not only is this unethical, but those impacted by breast cancer are also left feeling more unsupported and exploited than ever. This completely defeats the purpose of this month all together.

Oftentimes these “pinkwashing” campaigns forget to acknowledge the immense amount of strength and courage people exhibit to fight this illness.

The ladies over at Hip Hop Happy Hour said it best when they said, “Our stories of survivorship aren’t a marketing ploy, and they aren’t pretty”.

These pinkwashing campaigns tend to drown out the badass courage and strength it takes to fight an illness like breast cancer, and instead replace it with pity.

But survivors aren’t looking for pity. They’re looking for a cure.

The sad reality is the CDC reports 264,000 annual cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the United States today, and we still have no cure.

This October it’s important you’re mindful when it comes to supporting brands that claim to support breast cancer awareness. It’s important to understand more about where these companies are actually giving money and support to.

We encourage you to support us in “Reclaiming October” and doing your part to fight “pinkwashing” this October.

How can you be an advocate?

Educate yourself

Image taken from @bcrfcure.

According to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, every 2 minutes a woman living in the U.S. is diagnosed with breast cancer. And breast cancer isn’t only limited to women—men can have it too.

Whether you’re personally suffering from breast cancer, know someone who is, or simply just want to be an advocate—making sure you educate yourself about the illness is key.

Learning how to mitigate your risk, detect the illness early, and raise awareness for those impacted by it are key to being a good advocate this October and beyond.

When you educate yourself on breast cancer related issues, you’re more likely to come across credible resources focused on advocacy and not just awareness.

Chances are, if the only time a brand ever mentions breast cancer is in October…they aren’t really doing much to support the cause as a whole.

Be sure to be a mindful consumer and support causes that you know backup organizations focused on making a large impact in the lives of those affected by this illness.

Learn the warning signs and preventative measures

Image taken from @thetutuproject.

Early detection is key when it comes to fighting breast cancer.

Educating yourself and your loved ones on what to look out for when it comes to breast cancer, is an excellent way to be an advocate for the cause.

Take some time to learn what a self breast exam looks like, how you can perform it, and make sure your loved ones know too.

Organizations like @thetutuproject have created guides like the one photographed above, that teach you how to perform a breast self exam.

This organization focuses on helping educate the community on breast cancer, and helps financially and emotionally support breast cancer patients and their families.

Donate to organizations that you know are reputable

Image taken from @AiRSFoundation.

Perform research to understand which organizations are actually helping advance the cause. Every dollar counts when it comes to advancing breast cancer research, and make sure you’re making the most of your dollars.

Here are some reputable organizations Brilliantly encourages you to support in the fight against breast cancer:

All these organizations have a proven track record of improving the lives of those suffering with breast cancer, and help advance research.

When you support reputable organizations, you’re helping us get closer to finding a cure to this heartbreaking illness.


These are just a few ways you can be an advocate and not just spread awareness for breast cancer this October. We hope you choose to join us in Reclaiming October, and improving the lives of those suffering with this illness.

What are you doing this October to reclaim Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Please let the Brilliantly Community know how we can support you in the comments below!

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