Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Too Many Causes, Not Enough Ribbons

Awareness ribbons. The different colored ribbons that are supposed to stand for a specific cause? The ribbons that have sort of bowed out and given way to the little rubber wristbands of various colors which are supposed to serve the same purpose? Yeah, those. When you have a limited amount of real colors and a seemingly unlimited amount of real or imagined causes, you're going to run into problems. You're going to have to have one color stand for more than one cause. And really, what's the point in that? How many separate things are people expected to remember and associate with one specific thing? ONE! TWO at the most! More than that? Well, you're going to experience the inevitable awkwardness when you see someone wearing a particular colored ribbon and you strike up conversation. "Oh, I see you're wearing a 'Support Nuclear Energy' ribbon there. No? Um, "Aging Country Rock Stars for Peace?" No? "Long Live the Queen?" How can we keep track?!!?

There doesn't seem to be a Grand Poobah who is in charge of what causes get what color or, more importantly, which causes are actually causes. I mean, come on, a burgundy ribbon stands for:

  • Hospice care, multiple myeloma, cesarean sections, headaches and migraines, thrombophilia.

OK, first of all, I don't even know what thrombopohilia is (but I'm going to guess it's an unhealthy attraction to trombones). But seriously, headaches and migraines? Hospice care? Hospice care gets a ribbon?!?! Now I have a headache.

See, if there WAS a Grand Poobah then there wouldn't be anyone trying to weasel in on pink which, as we all know, is the color for breast cancer. It is NOT the color that I associate with "birth parents". Yes. Birth parents. What does that mean? You are one? You want one? You're looking for one? You've found one? How did they end up associating themselves with pink? Mighty gutsy, all of your "pink = birth parents" believers, but here's a little secret: You're the only ones who think that because everyone else knows it's for breast cancer.

I'm just asking for a little sanity and a little uniformity, is that too much to ask? Well, I guess sanity is out of the question since I just found an Awareness Ribbons group on Facebook. But maybe uniformity? Reasonable-ness, perhaps? Let's look at a list (which differs from other ridiculously extensive lists that I've seen, thus my uniformity question) and see what we think. (And this list straight from the Facebook group, so don't kill the messenger.) Allow me....

The red ribbon. Red used to be for AIDS, but heart disease has worked it's way in and now I associate both heart disease and AIDS with the red ribbon/bracelet. But somehow these have been worked in as well:

  • Substance abuse, MADD, DARE, Epidermolysis Bullosa, Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW)

OK, can you have RED be the color for Wolff-Parkinson-WHITE Syndrome? What's wrong with WHITE for that? Oh, wait there's more.

Next up is orange. Orange stands for...? Anyone? Anyone?

  • Hunger, leukemia, cultural diversity and racial tolerance, feral cats, motorcyclist safety, Multiple Sclerosis-wristband only, self injury, Agent Orange exposure.

Um, FERAL CATS?!?! Are you people on GLUE?? Feral Cats? For reals?? Good Lord.....

  • Neural tube defects, growth and rebuilding, worker and driving safety, depression, bipolar disorder, mental health and illness. (Those last three could all be balled into one! Condense! Condense!)

Yes, when I see green, I immediately begin thinking about the safety of workers, especially if I'm driving. Wait, I thought bright orange was safety? Like those traffic cones, how come they're orange if green is for safety? Are they for the safety of feral cats? I'm so confused. Green means go, why can't they just leave it at that?

Dark Blue is on cause overload. Please commit to memory all of the following which are associated with dark blue ribbons (there might be a quiz later):

  • Child abuse prevention, arthritis, free speech, crime victims rights, water quality, colon cancer, histiocytosis, domestic violence, water safety (flooding, drowning and accidents), Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), interstitial cystitis, Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), Reyes Syndrome, education, short bowel syndrome, Myositis, Leukodystrophy, Hurricane Support, police officers lost in the line of duty (AKA, the Thin Blue Line)

Hurricane support? In support of hurricanes? Yes, I can totally see why that is grouped with arthritis and colon cancer as well as free speech and water quality!

If your cause is unpronounceable, chances are it will have a purple ribbon.

  • Domestic violence, religious tolerance, animal abuse, the victims of 9/11 (includes police and firefighters), pancreatic cancer, Krohn's Disease and colitis, cystic fibrosis, leimyosarcoma, macular degeneration, Sjogren's Syndrome, fibromyalgia, lupus, sarcoidosis, the homeless, thyroid cancer, ADD, ADHD, Alzheimer's, cancer survivor (this is a general color that anyone who has survived cancer can wear)

All I have to say about the purple ribbon is...The homeless?? Really??

The white ribbon seems more about people and human rights than it does about disease and cancer.

  • Innocence, victims of terrorism, peace, right to life, diabetes, sexual assault of students, retinal blastoma, Alzheimers, adoption, bone disease and bone cancer, anti-child pornography on the Internet.
Anti-child pornography on the Internet. Not just anti-child porn. ON THE INTERNET! No, I do not see just plain old anti-child porn with a designated color. That must be OK with those folks. Good to know. And I don't think it's fair to have both purple AND white be the color for Alzheimer's. What, you don't think that they're going to forget if you start switching them around? Oh.

Black ribbons are for anti-terrorism. In SPAIN. Everywhere else? Go for it, I guess. Oh, it also stands for, that's right, Amish support. (Why do they need supporting? Is it just because they're Amish? I could see that, I guess.)

Then they started combining colors. Black and light blue means the death of a son. Black and pink means the death of a daughter. Black and white together? The death of a zebra, that is correct. (Actually black and white is Carcinoid Syndrome Cancer and anti-racism. But Black-White-Black on a ribbon stands for "Vaccine danger". Is there a white-black-white ribbon that could stand for "Vaccines don't cause autism, so please vaccinate your children as I do not look forward to the return of smallpox!")

Orange, Green, Blue, Purple, Yellow Ribbon is for STD awareness. They chose that combination as those are the colors that the parts of you where you contracted the disease will begin to develop. And that, in turn, makes you very aware of your STD. So nice job, ribbons!

Ivory, Burgundy and Ivory Ribbon = Oral, head and neck cancer. (There is "head cancer"?!?)

Red and White Ribbon = Head and neck cancer, aplastic anemia (Why does "head and neck cancer" get two different ribbons? Can't aplastic anemia be trusted with it's own ribbon?)

Clearly, this whole thing has gotten out of control. And I don't think it would be a stretch to extrapolate a bit and say that more than 9 times out of 10, unless someone is afflicted with one of these conditions or is the nutjob who decided that their cause should go with a particular color, they would not know the specifics of what a specific color (with the exception of yellow) stood for unless you told them. When your list gets as long as this one has, it begins to get silly and that really takes away from the purpose. I'm not sure what the aversion is to putting the name of the cause on the ribbon or the wristband, but it should probably be considered. And soon, because there's a lot of crap out there wants to be a cause with a color.

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grannyann said...

Gads my head was swimming by the time I got thru reading. Who can be expected to remember all that? Surely not me. I didn't realize there were that many ribbons for that many things. I do no ribbons, no bumper stickers and no magnetic stickers! If you did - a person, and your car would look like a rainbow.

Silken said...

What a mess, but I am well aware of the problem.
I make Awareness Jewelry and today, it has become a jumble.
I just keep to the original causes, & do custom items if someone has a special cause they want to support.
I give your post a thumbs up!
It brought some levity to this situation :)

Anonymous said...

Indeed that was overwhelming. But, you missed one: Blue/Pink ribbons represent Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness.

Mare said...

Aaauugghh!! I MISSED ONE?!?! After all of that and there is still MORE?! Well, if nothing else, that certainly helps reiterate my point that there are just too many to make any sort of substantial impact.

Blue/Pink. Pregnancy/Infancy loss. I'll make a note.

::: sigh :::

~ Mare

Anonymous said...

check out that yellow thing again..lance armstrong isn't the only one who went for yellow. not to mention the separate shades of yellow.

Anonymous said...

If you are so committed to the "blatantly obvious" then I would suggest you read up on vaccine safety and the fact that no one has got a vaccine for small pox since 1972. DUH.