Breast cancer activists around the internet are waving pitchforks at Etsy, the “indie” internet shopping site popular among twee and wannatwee bloggers, for joining in the October retail ritual of “pinkwashing”.
It seems Etsy sent out a promotional email with the tagline “Tickled Pink: Show your love to the women in your life with Breast Cancer Awareness Month”, featuring all pink products in several categories. The problem seems to be that only a few of the items have anything to do with Breast Cancer research or awareness.
Blogger “Pink Goose” writes: “Etsy’s lack of ethics and oversight is bad enough. The fact that the majority of sellers are craven opportunists profiting off of our disease with cheap “handmade” crap is bad enough. But the fact that [people] like little miss Nichole actually promote these people as part of a fun, happy “Tickeled Pink” marketing email is beyond infuriating.” When Nicole Smith began getting twitter call outs for the promotional email, she responded simply “Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention. Always appreciate the feedback on how to improve and grow.”
Honestly I’m not sure what people expected of Etsy. They are, for all their crowing about being independent and not just some cog in the capitalist pig dog machine of manufactured consumerism, a shopping site. Meaning, their goal is to make you buy crap from their sellers so they can make money. It’s not surprising (especially considering their mostly young and twee consumer base) that they are using Breast Cancer Awareness Month as an excuse to try and sell people pink crap. Every other retailer is doing the same thing. Etsy isn’t some little shopping hugcircle run by three friends from their dining room, it’s a million dollar company with dozens of employees; in other words, a business. Don’t let their cute little “community for sellers” schtick fool you – their goal is to make money, not make sure your sensibilities remain intact.
That said, I have to agree with one community commenter who said “We don’t need general ‘awareness’ – we need action. Action as in — more, better measures for prevention, more access to better testing, more money for research, more access to treatment and recovery services. Simply coloring everything pink doesn’t do that.”