An article by a Cecil County student criticizing the ubiquitous pink ribbon branding on every product in October gained regional recognition. Lauren Olah, a recruit from Cecil College, was selected from hundreds of entries to present her article “Pink Awareness vs. Breast Cancer Advocacy âat the 29th Annual Beacon Conference on Friday June 4th.
The Beacon Lecture highlights the literary works of two-year college students in the Mid-Atlantic. Olah’s article was selected in the Business and Economics category.
Charities such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation have never claimed ownership of the pink breast cancer ribbon symbol, which Olah said left the door open for any business to use the ribbon to market products, distorting the message that the symbol is intended to send to the Public.
âAs a woman, this essay was very important to me,â said Olah. “After years of watching ‘Pinktober’ dilute the strength of women and patronize the very disease that destroys us, we had to tell the truth.”
Olah pointed to the âpinkwashingâ tactic, when a company that creates harmful products, such as a cosmetic brand whose makeup contains carcinogens, but still uses a breast cancer logo in marketing, as an example of a inappropriate business tactics.
Olah said there was a need for consumers to be intentional with their donations, instead of assuming that buying products with a pink ribbon will actually lead to increased funding for breast cancer.
âIt sounds great that part of [your purchase] go to cancer research â; but, as explained in my essay, you might be surprised at how little funding actually goes to the cause, âsaid Olah. “My advice would be to be intentional with your philanthropy.”
At the conference, Olah will give a 25 minute presentation on the merits of the article. A judge with expertise in the field will choose the winner of the panel award based on the quality of the article, presentation, and questions and answers.
Assistant English Professor Kathleen Weiss gave Olah the first opportunity to submit her paper for the competition.
âLauren is a critical thinker, and this article on breast cancer and the pitfalls of the pink marketing campaign to raise funds and awareness showcases those skills,â Weiss said. “His style of succinct phrasing while masterfully delivering his message is refreshing and pleasant to read.”
Olah, originally from the North East, is enrolled part-time at Cecil College. She hopes to be accepted into the nursing program. Her ultimate goal is to work in medical diagnostic ultrasound, which uses medical ultrasound imaging for medical diagnoses such as breast cancer. The 25-year-old mother of a four-year-old daughter currently works as a chiropractic assistant.
âI have always been deeply attached to the exploitation of breast cancer,â said Olah. âThis document was originally assigned in October, so the topic was fresh in my mind. As soon as I heard the editorial post, I immediately knew this was my chance to write about this topic. I have not had any personal experience with breast cancer. My take on this topic has just grown after years of watching corporate retail profit from this specific disease. “
The 29th Annual Beacon Conference will be hosted virtually by Westchester Community College on Friday June 4th. To learn more about the event, visit www.beaconconference.org.