In May, we outlined just how much damage had been done to Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s reputation lately. After their decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, which they later took back after public outrage, the organization saw registration for it’s annual Mother’s Day walks drop significantly. The message seemed pretty clear from women everywhere. “Sorry Komen, but we don’t forgive you yet!”
So what is the pink-washed company doing to earn back our hearts? Well, they’re partnering with Marvel comics. Eight issues of next month’s Marvel comics will feature pink Komen-inspired covers, as well as an informational page about breast cancer awareness. I have to admit, I think that the illustrations are pretty cool. The geeky girl in me kind of loves to see a women’s issue supported so prominently in comic books. And my four-year-old daughter, who loves comics and superheros with all her heart, is going to be begging for these issues and their pink covers.
In truth, it’s nice to see Komen promote their cause in a less-predictable place. Men can get breast cancer as well. They have partners, mothers and siblings who all need to worry about self-checking and regular mammograms. All in all, a positive step in the right direction for Komen, right?
Well, maybe not. No matter how nice the graphics are or how inventive the advertising scheme is, partnering with Marvel doesn’t really address one of the key critiques Komen for the Cure needs to face. The defunding of Planned Parenthood might have angered women, but it also shed a little light on some of the charity’s more questionable practices. One of the main criticisms is that people are tired of the pink-washed ad campaigns. They’re looking for Komen to concentrate its resources on research and prevention.
As the wonderful Elizabeth Nolan Brown said, “Yes, teaching women about self-breast exams and mammograms is important, but so is teaching women about all the lifestyle factors—obesity, poor diet, toxins—that can lead to breast cancer, and that’s an area from which Komen shies away.”
Unless those Marvel inserts take a minute to dive into these important issues, I think it’s fair to say that Komen hasn’t earned back their reputation. In all honesty, no matter who they partner with, a pink-themed campaign just isn’t going to do the trick. I don’t care if they convince Robert Downey Jr. to walk around in a pink Iron Man suit for a month. We’re looking for more substance from Komen, not just more pink in more unexpected locations.
(Photos: Comics Alliance)