Sunday, November 20, 2011

Evelyn Lauder, creator of the pink ribbon, passes away

The news didn’t receive much mention from the press here. Evelyn Lauder, credited with creating the pink ribbon, a symbol of breast cancer awareness, passed away on November 12, 2011. Sadly, she died of complications from another kind of cancer that happens to women, ovarian cancer.

Lauder created the pink ribbon in 1992. The daughter-in-law of Estee Lauder, who created the eponymous cosmetics company, Lauder and her husband began their campaign for breast cancer awareness by financing the bows given to women at department stores’ make up counters, to remind them of breast examinations. Their campaign grew and led to the designation of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the US, and the foundation by Lauder, of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

The Independent, UK, quotes her recalling the early days of the campaign, saying there was no publicity about breast cancer but a “confluence of events – the pink ribbon, the colour, the press, partnering with Elizabeth Hurley, having Estée Lauder as an advertiser in magazines and persuading so many of my friends who are health and beauty editors to do stories about breast health – got people talking."
The report mentions that three years after the first pink ribbon was distributed, she said, a flight attendant noted one on Lauder's lapel and said, "I know that's for breast cancer."
Lauder said: "From there, it became ubiquitous."

The cause has lost an activist. But I, for one, am sure that Lauder must have inspired many women to go out there and work for it. Her message about being aware remains alive in the form of the pink ribbon and her work. Let’s continue it and get people talking.