The History of the Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon

Posted on October 8, 2015

Pink Ribbon - Call the GeneralRibbons have symbolized awareness and support for a wide variety of causes; for example, red ribbons are often used for AIDS awareness, yellow ones for hostages and soldier support, blue for child abuse awareness, and many others. One of the most recognized symbolic ribbons is the pink ribbon, which is used for breast cancer awareness. How did the pink ribbon come to symbolize such a powerful and widespread cause – one that affects millions of people across the globe?

It can all be traced back to 1979, when the wife of a hostage taken in Iran tied yellow ribbons around her front yard trees to signal her desire to see her husband come home safe and sound. Eleven years later, AIDS activists, inspired by the wife’s yellow ribbons in 1979, turned ribbons bright red, looped them, and sent it onto the national stage during the Tony Awards in 1990 to represent support for those affected by AIDS.

This set the stage for the coming of the pink breast cancer awareness ribbon. One of the most popular organizations for breast cancer awareness, Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, has used the color pink since its beginnings in 1982. Throughout the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, the logo for the Komen Race for the Cure® was a female runner outlined with a pink ribbon.

1990 was a big year for the first breast cancer survivor program, which was launched at the Komen National Race for the Cure® in Washington, D.C. Survivors wore black and white buttons for that first year, but as the program developed in that first year, pink was used as the designated color to promote breast cancer awareness and various programs. They also launched the use of pink visors to recognize survivors. 1991 was the first year in which pink ribbons were distributed to all breast cancer survivors and participants in the Race for the Cure.

In 1992, the editor-in-chief of Self magazine, Alexandra Penney, wanted to put the 2nd annual breast cancer awareness issue “over the top”, and so she created a ribbon and enlisted the largest cosmetics companies to distribute them across the entire city of New York in various stores. The pink breast cancer awareness ribbon was born.

In 2007, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation® underwent a name change, and revamped its brand image as well. The new logo was a pink running ribbon, signifying the promise that founder Nancy Brinker made to her dying sister, Susan Komen, to do what she could to end breast cancer.

Walk with us

The General and his troops are giving back during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in honor of all breast cancer fighters, survivors and their support teams.

Join us at the Paint El Paseo Pink Breast Cancer Walk on Oct 10th, it will be the event of the year!

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