Pink: The Dark Side #rethinkpink

Pink! pink stilettos

A pretty color in shades that range from soft pastels to brass-band hotness often associated with females, widely used in marketing aimed at women who enjoy their femininity and men who enjoy hot women.


That adorable spawn of white and red. White is for whitewash, as in lies, coverup and deception. Red is for sexual allure, as in breasts. A titillating combo, sweet and innocent as a baby girl, with a dash of red-hot sexuality, sweetly seductive, all in one color. And who can pass up a two-fer?


Like tiny baby piglets, so warm and cuddly you just want to reach out and hug them. But alas, they will soon grow fat. Fat like deep pockets. Deep like a puddle of mud. Mud like piglets who grow to be pigs who wallow in mud where their pink turns brown like shit.


The color of cotton candy – an empty caloric ball of fluff that offers zero nutrition and leaves one nauseated.


As in, “I’m in the pink!” That is to say: I’m feeling well, have never been better, at the top of my game, my cheeks blush with a healthy hue. Perfect health comes in shades of bubble gum, rose petals and Valentine’s kiss-me confetti. Its palette does not include shades of recurrence or metastatic cancer. Those colors aren’t so pretty, such as Hit-the-Fan Brown and Grim Reaper Black. Pink has a different message to give, that if we  give, others will be in the Pink!


Like when Nancy B. lost her sister Susan G. to breast cancer. If only there had been more awareness and funding for research, maybe older sis wouldn’t have died. So Nancy B. took life’s lemons and made lemonade by starting the Susan G. Komen Foundation. She had a good idea, which caught on and became popular. And you know what happens when a nice, wounded girl enjoys sudden popularity. Like a chameleon, she changes color – in this case, the color pink.


Like when Nancy B. took her lemons-to-lemonade recipe, but didn’t know when to stop and turned it pink. Pink lemonade has artificial coloring because lemons don’t actually look like that. Not to mention that pink dye may be carcinogenic, which kind of misses the point. Nancy B. likes her junk food. So hard to resist. Silly Nancy B.


The color of make-believe, like Cinderella’s gown and fairy princesses. Like scripting bald, pink-headed women to play characters who run races and raise lots of money. Their plight and fervor is a proven plot, certain to tug on heartstrings; a surefire blockbuster hit to bring in millions while pretending to cure and make the boo-boos all better.


Not a color at Susan G.’s funeral. An Ashkenazi Jewess whose lineage includes a high incidence of breast cancer, I imagine she had a traditional burial and if there’s one thing I know about Jewish funerals, there’s no pink because there’s no flowers. This custom is out of respect for the mourners by not covering up the face of death with the veil of happy. In this way, a grievous loss is not made pretty. Because it’s not.


Pretty like attractive girls used for fun and profit and trafficked against their will. Like young women on the street, weak and impoverished, taken in by ruby brothels that clothe them in swishy gowns with plunging necklines, jewels that dangle against plump cleavages, pimped out to turn pink tricks. Call girls, escorts, ladies of the night. They don’t like the word “prostitute.” Because it’s not you know. I mean, it just isn’t. And what do I know? Just when I hear the sound of pink stilettos clack in rhythm to the sound of ka-ching! that’s prostitution. That means someone makes a lot of money while someone else gets screwed.


Not the words you’d hear from Susan G. if she were here today, her pursed lips painted a Crimson Burn, fiery syntax not shimmering so pretty. No, not at all. Not like pink.


  1. dear Eileen, this post is phenomenal! the eleven definitions of pink and what they stand for, from the sleazy, yet well thought out by master mind shills sexualization of breast cancer, to the guiles of innocence purposefully designed to make buying and giving and running and wearing pink irresistible, to imagining what Susan G. would have to say if she were here today is so powerful. “just when I hear the sound of pink stilettos clack in rhythm to the sound of ka-ching! that’s prostitution. that means someone makes a lot of money while someone else gets screwed.” so true! and I am so glad you included the part about the pink palette not including shades of recurrence or of metastatic breast cancer. it occurs to me if we add just a little drab olive to the(shit) hit the fan brown and the grim reaper black, we’d have the colors of camouflage. a perfect metaphor for how the pink society is so intent on hiding the truth about breast cancer. and as for nancy b. – I can never get it out of my head, “her own sister, her OWN SISTER?!?! WTF?

    love and kudos for this unforgettable post,

    Karen xoxo

    • Thanks, Karen. Re Nancy B., I’m guessing she justifies everything in every way. For one thing, it’s not as if the Komen Foundation hasn’t done some good things and funneled a portion of its money where we’d like to see it go. It’s just that somewhere along the way, its CEOs forgot the meaning of “501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.” I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean an annual salary of more than a half-million dollars.

  2. You are brilliant!

  3. Linda R. Malis says

    Eileen: This post is amazingly brilliant!! You always were super smart!! I agree with everything you wrote.

  4. This is one amazing post! Wow! Love this!

  5. What a creative, spectacular post, Eileen! Nancy B. definitely went too far. And you are right: pink lemonade is artificial, just like the happy breast cancer smiles during October and the rest of the year.

    • Thanks, Beth. Honestly, I am drowning in pink this October. I’ve had more than enough, but despite it all, I admit I had way too much fun writing this post. 🙂

  6. Eileen, this is an awesome post! Sadly people do miss the real message and those with the power to deliver it, fail at it. I love the lemonade analogy, so creative and true. I like your writing style.

  7. Witty, honest,revealing…very telling, E!

  8. The Accidental Amazon says

    A passionate, perceptive dissection of the pink peril. Hate it. Love this. xxoo, Kathi

  9. At Walmart they have a big display of garish pink workout wear from the Komen folks. Every time I walk by it I think “That’s just wrong.” You wrote a very powerful post here, Eileen. Brava!

  10. nancyspoint says

    Another excellent post, Eileen. I still love pink, just not so much in October and pink definitely does have a dark side.

  11. beautythroughthebeast says

    I love the color pink, and I think it brings awareness to the disease that kills millions of women, and some men. This is my first Pinktober as a breast cancer survivor, so I haven’t gotten to the point of being angry or offered by it, I don’t understand that point of view. Anything to raise awareness and empowerment, that’s how I feel!

    • Chiara, you may never get angry, nor do you need to. Nothing is all good or bad, and Komen does its share of good. I appreciate that Pinktober brings patients and survivors together and brings in funds, but I’m not happy that the great majority of those funds do not go to research for finding a cure. I see “awareness” as a well-oiled marketing machine that brings in lots of money from which corporations like Komen profit on a huge scale with far too little going toward research, despite its slogan “For the cure.” So they bring about awareness… Is there anyone who isn’t already aware? And what does awareness do if it does little more than bring in more profits for a huge corporation that doesn’t allocate it responsibly? But that’s the short opinion of the anti-pinksters. I recognize there’s some good that comes from it and if your focus is on that, I say go with it. If it helps you to feel empowered and connected to other survivors, I’m certain that’s a good thing and I think you should enjoy it.

      • beautythroughthebeast says

        I get it, Eileen. I’m new to researching where money goes that have been raised through fundraisers….Thanks for the eye-opener!


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