Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tie A [insert color here] Ribbon

Have you noticed that every disease and condition has an awareness ribbon. I think it started with HIV/AIDS activists wearing a red one. Then Susie G came up with the pink ribbon for breast cancer. Those are the most recognizable and you see them on everywhere. Inspired by the quick recognition of those two ribbons and the "Support Our Troops" yellow ribbon, every advocacy group had to have a ribbon, from the obscure (congenital diaphragmatic hernia - a cloud patterned ribbon) to the paradoxical (targeted individuals - indigo). Ummm... if you don't want to be targeted, don't wear a freakin' indigo ribbon. When all the ribbon colors were used up, the cause mongers moved on to bracelets. Full disclosure, I wear a yellow LiveStrong bracelet... I mean wristband, men wear wristbands not bracelets... You can get these in all colors and for all causes too, like a green one to support democracy in Iran or you can simply order a set with your own cause stamped into the silicone.

As noted by Timothy Noah in his Slate article, the proliferation of ribbon and wristband campaigns has diluted their impact to the point where they have become mere fashion statements. Some of the ribbon colors even have several meanings. Orange, for example, stands for Leukemia And Lymphoma awareness, Energy awareness in Nigeria, ADHD awareness, and six more causes. Oddly enough, it does not stand for "Protestants Marching Through A Catholic Neighborhood In Belfast" awareness. The oddest one of the orange ribbon causes is Self-Injury awareness. What do these people do, carefully pin on a ribbon and look in the mirror?

The LiveStrong wristbands encompass awareness of all forms of cancer. But the raison d'etre of an advocacy group is to stand out from the pack in order to attract attention and money. So each form of cancer has to have it's own color. Colon cancer awareness is blue. I'm quite puzzled by that, as it should be brown.

Anyway this got me thinking about other colors and patterns and what they could mean.
  • Checkered: NASCAR disease awareness. Help stop hundreds of thousands of southerners from watching cars turn left then crash.
  • Peach: Beat Florida awareness. Worn by University of Georgia fans until they win another game. Buy a few of these, Dawgs. You'll wear them out waiting.
  • Plaid: Catholic Girls Start Much Too Late awareness. Nuff said.
  • Paisley: Formerly The Artist Formerly Known As Prince And Now Again Known As Prince awareness. Please help this man make up his mind.
  • Polka Dot: Chicken Dance awareness. Stop the gratuitous use of this song at every wedding, office party, and neighborhood block party.
  • Suede: Let the National Zoo Lions Eat The Stupid Deer That Jump Into Their Enclosure awareness.
  • Leather: Real Meat Is Tastier Than Tofu awareness. Soy burgers? Puh-leeze!
  • Leather with studs: Punk Rock awareness. Like they need more attention.
  • Black and Red: DC United Needs Another MLS Cup awareness, aka the Fifth Star campaign.
  • Anthracite: Stop US Soccer from Wearing Ugly-Ass Colors awareness. Whatever happened to red, white, or blue?
Did I forget any?.


  1. Red and Green: Christmas Shopping Awareness. Much like the time-honored fasion rule of never wearing white shoes before Memorial Day or after Labor Day has evolved to before Easter or after the official arrival of Fall, the proper time to wear the red and green band has been expanded from the day after Thanksgiving to Epiphany (White Sales) to the week before Halloween to President's Day. Soon, Christmas Shopping Awareness band will be appropriate as a year-round accessory.

  2. Purple: "It's Time to Rid Virginia of Lefties" awareness. Worn by right-wingers, except when they're wearing their camo-colored bracelets for "It's Deer Huntin' Season! Lock and Load!" awareness.

  3. when I lived in africa, i semi-seriously suggested we wear brown ribbons to raise awareness of dysentery caused by unclean water (unlike many other health issues; this one is eminently solveable). based on the response, you'd have thought I brought a hooker to church (perhaps an unfair metaphor, since there shouldn't be anything wrong with bringing hookers to church).

  4. Red/Yellow/Green - this tri-colored band makes us aware that Sarah Palin is still in the spotlight. Red for I'll stop being an elected official (for now), yellow for maybe I love the attention, green for appearance fees, book deals etc.

  5. White band with dark green writing: Starbucks Awareness. So that, during the 30 yard walk between the last Starbucks you walked past and the next one, you will remember that you want another cup of coffee.

  6. Pasco's got a crush! Pasco's got a crush!

  7. Clear / see thru. "Self-love awareness" -- no, not THAT sort of self-love, really more like self-acceptance. Doubles as a stretchy magnifying thingie if you are having trouble reading.