Fall's Changing Colors
I have a very distinct memory of the second Saturday of every October when I was growing up. It was the last day of my mother’s annual fall deep-cleaning week, and I would wake up to impossibly clean windows waiting for me to go through a box of lovingly stored Halloween decorations and festoon them with jointed skeletons and scarecrows, and with thin, cardboard ebony cats with arched backs, and orange pumpkins with jaunty, black top hats. In the memory of this child of the ’60s and ’70s, October belongs to orange and black.
Now, however, October is all about pink — and breast cancer awareness. (That’s not a bad thing, of course, though if I ever see pink candy corn, I might have to eat it all in protest.) Almost instantaneously when the clock struck 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 1, it seems, Facebook turned pink. As did grocery store and megamart shelves. Doughnuts donned pink icing and deeper pink sprinkles, yogurt lids blushed from their refrigerated perches, and skyscrapers in major cities became bathed in rosy light.
The idea of sporting pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness likely began in 1991, when the Susan G. Komen Foundation handed them out to participants in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors. But the pink-washing of the American landscape each October since then is the result of years of PR, marketing and communications efforts; (savvy, for the most part) corporate partnerships; multichannel awareness and fundraising campaigns; and tons of social-media moxie. Everyone wants to wear the ribbon, and most of us want to do something besides just wear it. Many of us donate. Or buy specially hued products. Many others walk, sometimes for days, or we run, or bike or swim. Or all three. And a whole lot of us want to enlist others in our efforts — so we reach out.