The Dangers of Mandatory Optimism [Guest Post: Nancy Coish]

Ehrenreich is perhaps best known for her 2001 article’ “Welcome to Cancerland’. A breast cancer survivor, she was one of the first outspoken women to challenge ‘pinkwashing’ and the tendency of pink ribbon campaigns to infantilize women. She rejected the cheerfulness of “prevailing pinkness”, pointing out that the pretty of pink covered up the horror of the disease. She channeled her anger into advocating for a focus on a cure rather than the awareness associated with the pink movement. She feels that pink teddy bears and other cure pink trinkets, work to define the appropriate responses (emotional and otherwise) of women living with breast cancer. She has applied her theory of the dangers of mandatory optimism to other topics as shown in this video. I personally find her realism very empowering.

Nancy Coish

Ehrenreich, Barbara. (2001, November). Welcome to cancerland. Harper’s Magazine, 43-53.

Ehrenreich, Barbara. (2007, February). Pathologies of Hope. Harper’s Magazine, 9-11.