…And On Wednesdays We Wear Pink.

Praise the gods old and new: the NHL store does not have pink jerseys in it. There’s just a few shirts that are pink with team logos in blue, but hey this is awesome.

I’ve long questioned the existence of the pink jerseys. It’s not a matter of the “real fan” argument,  but more of a team colors are team colors. But mostly, I was irked as to people’s motivations of purchasing them. So often they were bought on the assumption proceeds were going to fight breast cancer. But isn’t that the campaign that the Komen organization has manufactured? The ubiquity of a specific color of pink. Hockey has certainly embraced this with pink out nights. The ice is painted, but generally looks like a sad snow cone. Players put on pink tape and laces, some teams even go as far as to have to pink jerseys to be auctioned off.

This is my problem. I think at this point in time we are all fully aware of breast cancer. I love the color pink. I favor obnoxious magentas and loud cotton candy lipsticks. My hair has been various shades of it over the years. My nail polish collection has its share of glittery and metallic iterations. The times I have worn the color, people have asked “oh! is this a breast cancer thing, for Komen?”

No, I wear the color for myself and I like it.

Komen isn’t saving any lives here. It’s just profiting off the suffering of women. And in turn, other companies and sports organizations have latched onto making things pink in the name of making a dollar and moving more product. Check out the documentary Pink Ribbons Inc and you can learn about how Komen stole the ribbon in the first place and the corporate monster it has become.

A few months ago my best friend had a breast cancer scare. She’s only 25. I was a wreck, I can’t even begin to imagine the state she was in as she went to doctor appointments and waited for the results to come back. Luckily, it was just a scare. But it had wrung me out.

In the jobs I’ve had, it has meant interacting with women in various stages of the cancer. I once worked at Victoria’s Secret, how and why I’m still not entirely sure. I was only there a year but it coincided with the worst time in my life. But while there I did have a lot of women come in after their mastectomy or had recovered from their reconstructions, looking for a new bra. That’s all they wanted, was something to make them feel pretty and happy. And enough of them remarked they didn’t want anything pink either. I remember one woman telling me the worst part about getting breast cancer was “all the pink shit.”

At my job now, it is still the same. The great part about dragon boating, is it encourages inclusiveness and there are tons of breast cancer survivor teams. A few weeks ago a customer needed help with a package I had shipped out. She needed it going to a different address and I was sorting it out. She called me back a few minutes later and apologized and told me I had it going to the right address. She must have apologized four times and told me how the chemo makes her confused. I just wanted to crawl under my desk and sob for days.

A lot of these teams want pink items. They see a color as a testament to what they are battling or have fought through because pink is so tied to the idea of being feminine. My boss has a huge heart for BCS teams and does whatever he can to help them out. His mother had breast cancer. But this was in the 70s when it was a death sentence and they just basically cut everything out of you. So we do whatever we can for these teams.

Did you know Komen owns the color pink? And they keep lawyers on retainer to send out cease and desist letters if they feel you are using THEIR pink? I learned this at my job. And my god, is that vile. We also have a charity and it contains the name For Life. Komen also believes they own this too and any group wanting to do something For Life be it saving puppies or helping children, you’re not allowed to use those words. They spend a lot of time C&D’ing these tiny groups who just want to raise money for a cause they believe in. Often these charities will comply since they fear the legal force of Komen coming down on them.

Whenever I see the pink nights at hockey I just want to kick and scream. We all know about the cancer. I just want lives saved instead. I want families helped with medical bills. I want the lives of the women to be valued; not her breasts. Don’t save the ta-tas, okay? SAVE THE WOMAN. There is an ugly statistic regarding men divorcing their wives during their breast cancer battle. One of the saddest things were the reactions to Angelina Jolie’s choice to have a double mastectomy as a preventative were people bemoaning she’s no longer hot and doesn’t have a use now.

And one of the most curious things of all is how when hockey teams do the breast cancer nights, the fact men can get it too is omitted. Often because of societal expectations, it isn’t caught until it is in a later stage. But instead, breast cancer night is the ONE time a team will attempt to attract more women to games. It’s not right. I want to fight cancer. I want to fight it by funding programs and giving scholarships to those in the science, technology, engineering and mechanical fields. I want things actually happening, okay?

So, my request to all sports organizations really is to think about what  you’re really doing with a breast cancer night, aside from selling more tickets.

And I suggest looking at The Scar Project. It’s a great photo series showing how cancer isn’t just a ribbon.