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Etsy's pinksploitation

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Etsy has created a treasury of pink objects — the majority of which are not supporting research, even though many are tagged "Breast Cancer Awareness".

(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Etsy has created a treasury of pink objects — the majority of which are not supporting research, even though many are tagged "Breast Cancer Awareness".

Etsy sellers can be just a little bit exploitative. Next time a celebrity dies, visit the site and search the name — and count how many trashy items are tagged with it. For example, here's a sampling of what Etsy came up with on the death of Steve Jobs.

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Etsy sent out an email with a cutesy treasury titled "Tickled Pink".

"Show your love to the women in your life with Breast Cancer Awareness Month," said the header. But one Etsy user was horrified to discover that the featured items are doing nothing to support cancer research or treatment. Acacia of Pink Goose, who has been fighting triple-negative metastatic breast cancer since 2009, went through each of the 25 items in the treasury, and found that only eight were making a donation to any sort of charity or research operation, in spite of many sporting the breast cancer ribbon logo or the "Breast Cancer Awareness Month" tag.

For several years now, various groups have been lashing back at "pinksploitation" — whereby breast cancer is turned into a marketing machine to sell pink products. As SE Smith pointed out in this excellent article in The Guardian, "The breast cancer awareness industry has become a multibillion-dollar juggernaut spanning multiple continents, flooding them with a sea of pink ribbons and tie-in products intended to entice socially aware consumers. Buy enough pink things, and you, too, will conquer cancer; the next level of awareness is always a step away, and with it will come some magical development in breast cancer research. Breast cancer has become a product, not just a disease."

According to Etsy, the treasury was not meant to provide ways to donate by buying pink, but to promote awareness. Mary Andrews of Etsy told Daily Dot:

We really appreciate the feedback and thoughtful discussion regarding the Etsy Finds email around Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Our aim in the email was to acknowledge this national campaign of awareness. While we do not promote specific shop charities, nor did we make claims to do so in the email, we do support acts of generosity and compassion within the Etsy community. The email was meant for awareness, and created in a supportive spirit. We will take all of this into serious consideration as we map out improvements to our emails and how we promote awareness within our community in the future.

Hat tip to Arwen for the story!