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Do You Sport Awareness Ribbons or Wristbands?

Ribbons! Those little looped, colorful, pinned-to-your-lapel statements of support. What started with your standard red for AIDS awareness, pink for breast cancer, has blossomed into a full rainbow. Did you know there's a burgundy ribbon? How about periwinkle? Lace?! Do you know what these stand for?

In the book Ribbon Culture, author Sarah Moore argues that the overuse of "awareness ribbons" has transformed charity into a commercial enterprise. She writes:

Both a kitsch fashion accessory, as well as an emblem that expresses empathy; it is a symbol that represents awareness, yet requires no knowledge of a cause; it appears to signal concern for others, but in fact priorities self-expression.

If you're aching to buy the book, get a quick taste of it with this book review.

Oh, and in case you didn't know, burgundy ribbons are for brain aneurysms, periwinkle for eating disorders, and lace for osteoporosis.

What do you think about the "ribbon culture?" Are ribbons and wristbands just easy ways for us to feel better about our lifestyles, or are they expressions of authentic solidarity, and a pledge to take positive action?


Join The Conversation
Ladybug7381 Ladybug7381 8 years
Some of the ribbons are absolutely ridiculous, I agree. There are some ribbons though that I think are worthwhile. I don't wear them or put the magnets on my car, but I will put them in places like my AIM profile. If for no other reason than occassionaly a friend will ask "What's that color for?" and it just helps people to realize some diseases and illnesses that they don't generally think about. And while I think some of the colors may be arbitrarily selected, some of them did require some thought. For example, the ALS ribbon is navy pinstripes because of Lou Gherig (the Yankee who the disease is most often associated with). No offense to anyone, but there shouldn't be ribbons for whaling and evolution and hang nails.
piraterie piraterie 9 years
I think that ribbons and wristbands have gotten just ridiculous and ridiculously trendy. At the same time, I've been wearing an AIDS awareness bracelet for years because I think it's an important reminder for me of a cause that I do actively support. The problem I have is when people wear or display these things and it just comes off as, "Oooh, look at me, I'm doing so much good," when in reality the most they might ever have done is purchased the ribbon or bracelet. I don't know; if someone happens to see my bracelet (rare, as my sleeve usually covers it) and asks about it, I'm glad to talk about it, but it's really mostly just for my own benefit.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I shun ribbon wearers, and that goes for the giant magnetic ones you put on cars also, its ridiculous.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Lain I totally missed the orange ribbons! How absurd!
janneth janneth 9 years
It's really hard not to put on a ribbon when someone at work or school is passing them out; everybody notices if you don't wear one. Of course, I am in favor of Aids Awareness (for example) so it would be strange if I did not wear it. But there is pressure.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
Ah, my kid just corrected me. Last year's Oscars was orange ribbons in support of closing Guantanamo. That's even more elitist and superior, IMO.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
I was about to suggest that we start a new one: gray ribbons (like brain matter) in protest against stupidity. However, I see that even gray is already taken. Still, since one of the causes associated with gray is brain cancer, that's still brain-related, so maybe we can still use it. I'd also like to propose a Burberry plaid ribbon, to recognize the serious and difficult-to-cure condition of fashion victimhood. Is anyone with me?
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
remedios, I don't think this is generally kids raising money. It's gotten too big for that. I don't even know whether they're even fund-raisers at all, in most cases. It's more a matter of making a public statement. It has gotten to the point of absurdity. Also, sometimes it's just annoying. For instance, I was aggravated at all of the red ribbons at the Oscars, I believe it was last year. It wasn't so much about AIDS awareness as about celebrities trumpeting how enlightened and superior they were. Now *that*, I have a problem with.
remedios remedios 9 years
It's not my thing, but don't they often come from kids selling them to raise money for stuff? That's good I guess.
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
I have long thought that ribbons and bracelets were simply ways of expressing one's concern without actually having to be concerned. Plus, now that every single cause has a ribbon or bracelet, the whole meaning is watered down. Do y'all remember that Seinfeld episode when Kramer refused to wear the AIDS ribbon, and he was vilified and beaten down for it? "Who? Who does not want to wear the ribbon?"
fashionhore fashionhore 9 years
I carry around a secret red ribbon for warding off evil and such in my purse. I don't clip it on anything, I jut put it in my zipper compartment so that I always have it. There is also one in my backpack as well!
CocoChic CocoChic 9 years
When my grandpa had cancer, he ordered a LIVESTRONG bracelet for everyone in the family. I wore it as a daily reminder to what he was going through and to keep him in my prayers. The ribbons I would wear are for things that have touched me personally. A pink one for my grandma who died of breast cancer and an autism awareness one for a good friend whose daughter is autistic. I don't think there is anything wrong with wearing something that when people see it, they think about what it means.
annebreal annebreal 9 years
I'm not into it. Same reason why I've never been into Jesus shirts or anything like that - I don't need to wear my beliefs. If you're curious, ask me. If I have money to donate to a cause I believe in, I will, but I don't need a tangible product for my donation. Not knocking those that do...although I've always wondered who profits from the "support the troops" ones and the other Patriotic stuff you can slap on your car...I have a feeling someone's making a killing off it, although I guess it could be some non-profit...doubt it though.
JaeB JaeB 9 years
I don't judge people who do wear ribbons and wristbands and the like, 'cause I understand how it can serve as a solidarity mechanism, which can be important for supporters of a cause to see amongst friends. In high school, my friends made a big effort to fund raise for Darfur, and seeing people at school wearing the green ribbons they sold meant their effort was working. That said, I don't wear those anymore. I did wear a Livestrong band for awhile, which was a good thing. It would break, I would buy another one. And everyone knew what it meant. So I think, unless you're seeing a group of people daily who are fund raising for a cause, there's really little point in wearing a ribbon because most of us don't know what the new colors signify and people may get the wrong impression, which is kind of sad.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I wear ribbons to further alienate as many as I can. I have one that says "Save the world, eat the whales", and another that says "This coat is 100% baby seal." Just kidding.
puddlesworth puddlesworth 9 years
I think ribbons are CRAP.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Like Phoebe on Friends, when she puts on the Christmas ribbon... cuz she's FOR Christmas!
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
This kinda makes me want to go out and find every ribbon I can and put them all on at once.
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
The idea behind ribbons and wristbands is that they will show other people that you are supporting a specific cause. The idea is that they will then bring awareness to that cause if you are interesting enough for people to care enough to ask about it, get other people to support the same cause if you are influential enough make people want to join in, symbolically hold hands with other ribbon-wearers in solidarity, or simply to say "look at me, I care". Either way, it's not harmful and there are certainly better things to expend negative vibes onto. I think that they've become so common that people forgot, never knew, or don't care about the reasoning behind them. I've never really wore a ribbon or wristband because...they're ugly. I don't need to toot my own charitable horn, and I tell people I know about the causes I support in a non-preachy, fun kind of way. I think most people just thinking putting a ribbon on is actually doing something. That's like getting a paycheck and never cashing it.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
Nope I think these ribbons and wristbands are ridiculous. I donate money to causes I believe in and except for posting the POW/MIA sticker on my car window, all other trinkets (except for t-shirts) get trashed. The only symbolic trinket I'd wear and actually want is one of Stephen Colbert's Wrist Strong bracelets. Hey, strong, healthy wrist are important and you never know when you could suffer a serious wrist injury. WRIST STRONG! 8)
stephley stephley 9 years
I wear a wristband all the time, not to start conversations but to keep me focused on something I think is important.
Matdredalia Matdredalia 9 years
I do, in fact, wear ribbons. However, I was wearing them back in school, before it was a trend, and people laughed hysterically at me for doing so. However, I felt, and still feel, that it is important to get the message out there about so many of the disorders, diseases, cancers, and afflictions out there that so many people don't know about. Is it akin to doing something? Nope. That's why I donate to various foundations, volunteer for drives, etc. I'm sure many people where the ribbon as a trend or just because, which actually leads me to an interesting idea that I've actually considered writing about myself: In the wake of 911, everyone I knew was buying American flag accessories of every kind faster than you can say "Old Glory". Now, I've been VERY patriotic all of my life. Again, I wore an American flag pin and American flag t-shirts back when people laughed at me for it. Now, suddenly, our country is attacked, and finally people take the time to care about their country. A devastating event occurs, and finally, all these people suddenly love America and are "die hard Patriots"? I didn't jump on the bandwagon. I didn't need to buy 15 flag shirts to be patriotic, I already was. What's sad is that it got to the point in my high school that if you didn't wear a flag t-shirt at least once a week, you got blasted as being a terrorist or a "Taliban lover". It finally got to the point, after the umpteenth person asked me if I was a part of the Taliban, that I finally started asking them if they could recite the Pledge of Allegiance or they could get past "Oh, say can you see" in the Star Spangled banner. Most of them couldn't. The problem, that I see, in American society is that too many people have the mob mentality. They don't think for themselves, they just do what everyone else does, and fail to realize that there is a world outside of blending in. So, when people who really do care start to do things like this, they automatically think "oooh, I want to get in on this!" without ever truly thinking about what lies beyond the ribbons that many wear. The volunteer work, the marthons, the donations, the horror stories of people in their lives who've been affected, etc. I don't have a problem with anyone wearing a ribbon if they're willing to back it up.
OMGoshDramaQueen OMGoshDramaQueen 9 years
Of-course! Even the [car magnets] too! <3
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Who decides what colors are for what affliction? and why? For instance, teal is for ovarian cancer but ALSO for tsunammi victims?? huh?!
stephley stephley 9 years
This is the future of 'i was raped' t-shirts!
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