Documentary unties pretty Pink Ribbon marketing
A new documentary from a breast cancer survivor raises questions about the "pinkwashing" she believes brands are using to sell products that are actually carcinogenic.
Dr. Samantha King's investigation into the growing corporate involvement in breast cancer fundraisers is the basis for Léa Pool's new documentary, "Pink Ribbons Inc.," opening in select theatres Friday.
The documentary suggests brands use the pink ribbon to create a feel-good sense for their product –-a tactic she calls ‘pinkwashing'.
"That's when corporations ... sell products that might be linked to breast cancer," King explained. "So cosmetics with toxic ingredients, for example, also make money by doing pink ribbon marketing".
She said many of the products are not even related to breast cancer.
"One of my favourite examples is a breast cancer handgun that went on sale in the U.S. last year. We've seen Kentucky Fried Chicken, snowshoes -- the list is really endless" she said.
The trailer for the documentary shares a few stories from women with breast cancer who claim only a small percentage of money raised for fundraisers goes towards research.
"It's almost like our disease is being used for people to profit and that's not OK," said one woman featured in the film.
University of B.C. researcher Carolyn Gotay said she values the questions the documentary raises but argues the push to find a cure has not overshadowed prevention research.
"I think we're on a good upward trajectory but we're still not near the finish line," she said.
Gotay added that some of the film's arguments have not been scientifically proven.
"Some of the carcinogens identified in the film haven't really been shown necessarily to be deleterious to the levels they're being used," Gotay said.
Representative for Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation B.C./ Yukon. Judy Caldwell also said the documentary uses decade-old campaigns.
"If it's a product we don't believe in, if the amount to be donated is highly inappropriately small, then we would refuse it," Caldwell said
She added that Run for the Cure, the foundation's signature event, is monumental in raising awareness about breast cancer and providing to prevention research.
"Pink Ribbons Inc." opens Friday at Denman Cinemas and The Rio in Vancouver, Roxy Theatres in Victoria, Avalon Cinema Centre in Nanaimo and the Paramount Theatre in Kelowna.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Bhinder Sajan.