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The Birth of the Pink Ribbon

by Kelsi Roth, Senior Graphic Designer and Social Media Coordinator

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so you’ve probably been seeing a lot of little pink ribbons around even if you didn’t realize why. The pink ribbon has been synonymous with breast cancer awareness since the 1990’s, but was developed even before that. 

Ribbons have been popularly used for awareness in the United States since the ’70s. Penelope Laingen, the wife of Bruce Laingen, tied a yellow ribbon around a tree during the Iran Hostage Crisis to signify a desire for the release and safe return of the hostages. The yellow ribbon has since expanded its meaning to a general “support our troops” message. In 1990, a red ribbon was used to draw attention and support to the AIDS crisis. 

Susan G. Komen for the Cure had used pink in their efforts since the beginning, but in 1991 they distributed pink ribbons to all of the survivors and participants of the New York City Race for the Cure. In 1992, Self magazine wanted to do something special for the second annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They created a pink ribbon and encouraged cosmetics companies to distribute them in their New York City stores. Since then, the pink ribbon has been a hallmark of the Breast Cancer Awareness movement. 

Read more about the pink ribbon here.

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