Pink Ribbon History

The pink ribbon is an international symbol of breast cancer awareness. Pink ribbons, and the color pink in general, identify the wearer or promoter with the breast cancer brand and express moral support for women with breast cancer. Pink ribbons are most commonly seen during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The first known use of a pink ribbon in connection with breast cancer awareness was in the fall of 1991, when the Susan G. Komen Foundation handed out pink ribbons to participants in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors.

The pink ribbon was adopted as the official symbol of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month the next year, in 1992. The pink ribbon was derived from the popular red ribbon for AIDS awareness. Alexandra Penney, the editor-in-chief of the women’s health magazine Self, and breast cancer survivor Evelyn Lauder, the senior corporate vice president at the cosmetics company Estée Lauder created a ribbon for the cosmetics giant to distribute in stores in New York City.

Breast cancer organizations use the pink ribbon to associate themselves with breast cancer, to promote breast cancer awareness, and to support fundraising. Some breast cancer-related organizations, such as Pink Ribbon International, use the pink ribbon as their primary symbol. Susan G. Komen for the Cure uses a stylized “running ribbon” as their logo.

While specifically representing breast cancer awareness, the pink ribbon is also a symbol and a proxy of goodwill towards women in general. Buying, wearing, displaying, or sponsoring pink ribbons signals that the person or business cares about women. The pink ribbon is a marketing brand for businesses that allows them to promote themselves with women and identify themselves as being socially aware.