The tyranny of pink

The author behind a new documentary tells Salon how breast cancer got cute and where Susan G. Komen lost its way

King_pink coverWhy wait for October for breast cancer awareness? There couldn’t be a more perfect moment for director Lea Pool’s new documentary “Pink Ribbons Inc.” — a searing, passionate and deeply human examination of the warping of a cause.

It’s been a shaky year for the pink. In January, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the undisputed center of the breast cancer universe in its be-ribboned, Schiaparelli-hued incarnation, made the spectacular misstep of attempting to withdraw funding for breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood. Though the howls of public outrage forced the foundation to back off – and prompted the resignation of its vice president for public policy, Karen Handel — the debacle was just the latest and most grotesque move from an organization ostensibly devoted to women’s health. There was the ill-advised, high-profile partnership with Kentucky Fried Chicken, a name not exactly synonymous with good health. There was a saturation of merchandising, including a perfume of questionable toxicity. No wonder registrations for this year’s Race for the Cure are down, as Komen continues to be dogged by questions about its integrity.

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Published in: Salon
By: Mary Elizabeth Williams