Updated on October 5, 2019
Wearing of the Pink
Ever wonder where ribbons and symbolism all started?
Penney Laingen, wife of a hostage who’d been taken prisoner in Iran in 1979 started the trend. Inspired by the song, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” she tied yellow ribbons around the trees in her front yard to await her husband’s return.
Yellow ribbons were used again to remember soldiers fighting and dying in the Gulf War. AIDS activists piggybacked on that, turned the ribbon red, and sent it on stage Jeremy Irons’ chest for the Tony Awards.
That propelled charitable organizations to begin using colored ribbon campaigns for their causes.
The first ribbon for breast cancer awareness was a peach-colored loop handmade by Charlotte Haley whose granddaughter, sister, and mother had battled breast cancer. She passed out sets of five along 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.”
Evelyn Lauder wanted to enhance upon Haley’s idea. Lauder had her lawyers approach Haley, who refused to relinquish her grassroots, word-of-mouth project. Lauder’s lawyers advised her to come up with a different color and she did.
She traded peach for pink and put pink grosgrain ribbons on cosmetics counters across the country promoting her Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).
Pink is playful, life-affirming and studies show it has a calming, quietening effect and lessens stress, according to the Color Association of the United States. It’s perfect to symbolize everything breast cancer is not.
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation gave a pink ribbon to runners in its New York City Race in 1991. The origins of the Run for the Cure ribbon is here.
And, so the pink ribbons we wear every October became the icon for awareness and and show moral support for those with breast cancer.
If you’re like me, you have one or more friends or family members who have been affected by breast cancer. I’ll be wearing a pink ribbon this month.
How about you?