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Will Facebook Bra Colors Trigger Other Awareness Trends?


The current craze on Facebook with female users posting the colors of their bras has focused attention on breast cancer, a disease that affects more than 200,000 women in the United States alone. Could this trend trigger others to try to raise awareness about a cause near and dear to their hearts? And would that effort somehow involve colors, perhaps associated with the various ribbons of awareness?

When women began posting the colors of their bras on Facebook, it was part of an effort to raise awareness of a specific disease, and apparently it worked. According to a CNN story, breast cancer groups say they are pleased that the disease is getting lots of attention. Andrea Rader, a spokeswomen for the breast cancer organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure, encouraged women to visit their website to get more information.

While raising awareness of breast cancer is certainly a worthy cause, there are many other serious diseases and causes that could also benefit from having more people aware of them and how to prevent and treat them. One that comes to mind is prostate cancer, which, according to the American Cancer Society, was diagnosed in about 192,280 men in 2009 and resulted in the death of about 27,360 men that year. Someone may devise a creative way to raise awareness of this disease on Facebook; tastefully, of course. The ribbon color of awareness for prostate cancer is blue.

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Autism, which has been in the news much lately, has a puzzle ribbon as its symbol of awareness. With approximately 1 percent of children believed to have this neurodevelopmental disorder, many parents and organizations are interested in bringing more attention to this serious problem.

A purple ribbon is associated with several major diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, and fibromyalgia, and a serious social problem, domestic violence. Many people may know that a red ribbon is the symbol of awareness for AIDS, but how many know that a gold ribbon is for childhood cancer, or that orange ribbons have been designated for multiple sclerosis and for leukemia and lymphoma? If you see a gray ribbon, it may be highlighting diabetes, brain cancer, or asthma. And a green ribbon? It can signify environmental awareness as well as organ transplantation and donation.

Facebook is a venue for many things, and raising awareness of serious and life-threatening health issues to the public can be one of the more worthy ones. There will always be those who try to exploit such a medium and opportunity. But the majority who are truly interested in helping others become more aware of a disease or other life-altering condition, whether it is through talking about bra colors or pointing others to a website where they can get more information, may achieve their goals: helping increase awareness and educating the public about health issues, perhaps enough to prompt some to seek screening, take preventive measures, or get treatment.

American Cancer Society
CNN, Jan. 8, 2010