We’re approaching the Pink Season, my heart sisters. It’s that time of year when breast cancer awareness campaigns and their accompanying corporate marketing shills rev into high gear. Last Pinktober, we saw pink buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken, pink-handled Tasers, and (yes, seriously) pink Smith & Wesson handguns, each somehow helping us to be more aware of breast cancer. What could possibly top what breast cancer survivor and author Barbara Ehrenreich calls this “cult of pink kitsch” again this year? (See also: Think Before You Pink™ for some important questions* to ask about that pink ribbon).
From my perspective as a 37+ year veteran in the public relations field, I have to say that the breast cancer folks have done a fabulous job in raising awareness of their cause. So fabulous, in fact, that they have erroneously convinced women that breast cancer is our biggest health threat.
It is not, of course. This year, heart disease will kill six times more women than breast cancer will. In fact, heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined. Yet heart patients and those who care for us seem to be oddly content sitting quietly on the back burner of that massive pink stovetop.
So in the interests of offering some balance here amidst a torrent of pinkwashing, I invite you to watch this 3-minute film called “Just a Little Heart Attack” from the American Heart Association.
I love this Elizabeth Banks film so much that, as you may have noticed, I inserted it permanently into my sidebar here at Heart Sisters.
The Emmy-nominated actress, whose own mother and sister have both been diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmias, perfectly captures a typical multi-tasking woman putting her own needs well behind those of everyone else around her. She plays the harried heart attack victim here in an exquisitely hilarious yet frighteningly realistic fashion.
And her film also reminds us that young women can have heart disease, too. Yet when researchers reporting in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at more than 10,000 patients (48% women) who had gone to their hospital Emergency Departments with chest pain or other heart attack symptoms, they found that women under the age of 55 are SEVEN TIMES more likely to be misdiagnosed in mid-heart attack than their male counterparts are. A commonly heard pronouncement delivered by too many Emergency physicians to too many female heart patients is:
“It’s not your heart. You’re too young to be having a heart attack.”
My sister heart attack survivors have been raving about this little film. Please do us all a favour and forward this link to the women you care about, reminding them that:
- heart disease is our #1 killer
- heart disease kills more women than men every year
- women typically wait too long before seeking help despite heart attack symptoms
- up to 80% of heart disease is preventable through lifestyle choices like regular exercise, healthy food choices, and not smoking
- women must pay attention to ALL cardiac warning signs and call 911 immediately
- YOU KNOW YOUR BODY! YOU KNOW WHEN SOMETHING IS JUST NOT RIGHT!
Find out more myths and facts about women’s heart disease.
And thank you in advance for remembering to Facebook/Tweet/email/post/print/ or share this link with your friends, neighbours, co-workers and family members.
♥ And for a surprisingly inane and uninformed perspective on this little film, read the otherwise intelligent Gary Schwitzer‘s review in Forbes – and then immediately post a comment to his article (as I did) advising him to give his head a shake.
* And speaking of All Things Pink, the National Breast Cancer Foundation and other breast cancer charities claim they are raising funds to help pay for mammograms for women who cannot afford them. But mammograms are already covered for low-income women in the U.S. through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program. Although this screening program does have limitations, what is most needed is the funding to get low-income American women treatment if breast cancer is actually found. (Here in Canada, the “commie pinko land of socialized medicine”, mammograms and breast cancer treatments are, of course, already covered for all women).
The corporate pink ribbon campaign can also be misleading. Consider the Lean Cuisine packaging that featured the ubiquitous pink ribbon of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But consumers who bought their Lean Cuisine frozen dinners believing that a portion of the purchase cost would benefit breast cancer charities learned upon reading the fine print that they actually had to visit the company’s website and purchase a Lean Cuisine lunchbag. Only then would a portion of that bag’s purchase price be donated. Brilliant marketing campaign – resulting in all those Lean Cuisine lunchbags helping to freely advertise the company’s brand in staff lunchrooms all over North America!
Under the noble auspices of charity, argues Queen’s University professor Samantha King in her book, Pink Ribbons Inc: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy, global corporations, politicians, and “regressive white middle class family values” are all getting a big shot in the arm from this pink ribbon juggernaut. She notes that, beyond being an all-too-frequent and still-too-lethal disease for many women, breast cancer is a corporate dream come true.
“Corporations secure free publicity and a means to expand their market share via enlogoed ‘awareness’ campaigns. The rank and file, conditioned by now to believe that there’s no problem shopping can’t solve, are invited to feel virtuous and altruistic whenever they buy a Yoplait yogurt or a pink KitchenAid mixer.”
The National Film Board of Canada has produced the documentary Pink Ribbons Inc. Watch the trailer.