Awareness Wristbands and the Meaning Behind the Colors

Written by Michele Wheat

Silicone wristbands have become synonymous with showing support for a cause, raising awareness and generating funding. It all started in 2004 with a yellow silicone bracelet that read “LIVESTRONG.”  The bracelet was designed for the professional cyclist and cancer survivor, Lance Armstrong.  The color yellow was selected to represent the color of the jersey worn by race leaders during the Tour de France.  The $1 silicone bracelet was used to raise funds to improve the lives of people affected by cancer. Not only were cyclists wearing the band during the Tour de France, but celebrities were too.  The popularity of the yellow bracelet skyrocketed and as a result, millions of dollars were raised. The yellow bracelet quickly became a global icon for cancer support.  The simple messaging, affordable price and ability to help a noble cause produced astonishing results worldwide.

Before silicone wristbands, colored ribbons were used as a popular symbol of support.  It was a 19th-century practice that some women wore a yellow ribbon in their hair to signify their devotion to a husband or loved one serving in the U.S. Cavalry.  

Songs about ribbons were also produced. Musicians Tony Orlando & Dawn recorded one of their biggest hits in 1973 called “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree.” This was just as the Vietnam War was winding down and many who had served were returning home, sadly in many cases, to mixed receptions.

Yellow ribbons regained popularity as a sign of support for the military during the Gulf War in the 1990s. Right around this time, lapel ribbon pins were worn to show support for a cause.  This was most evident in the early 1990s when the Visual AIDS Artists Caucus, a group of artists from New York, wished to create a visual symbol to demonstrate compassion for people living with and caring for those diagnosed with AIDS. The color red was chosen for its connection to “blood and the idea of passion, both anger and love” and the red ribbon furthered symbolized the fight against AIDS. During the 1991 Tony Awards, actor Jeremy Irons wore a bright red ribbon on his lapel.  The media and public noticed the eye-catching ribbon and its popularity grew overnight.  The iconic red ribbon paved the way for many other color ribbons to represent a cause.  These simple lapel ribbon pins spoke volumes to people across the world cementing their place in activism and awareness for all causes. 

In 1991, Self Magazine created their inaugural Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue. The publication featured guest editor Evelyn Lauder, the Senior Corporate Vice President of the cosmetics giant, Estee Lauder and a breast cancer survivor.  In 1992, Self Magazine teamed up with Estee Lauder again.   Using a light pink ribbon to symbolize the cause, over 1.5 million of them were handed out at Estee Lauder counters across the country that year, and the cause produced 200,000 pink petitions that urged the White House to put more funding into breast cancer research.  These light pink ribbons brought a community of people together for a common cause with astounding outcomes.

As with everything, trends change.  Soon ribbons and lapel pins were replaced with silicone wristbands, perceived as more hip and trendy.  These bracelets for a cause were no doubt popularized by the Livestrong Foundation started by Lance Armstrong.  But unlike the ribbons and lapel pins which would show their age and look worn, silicone wristbands are durable and resilient. These awareness wristbands’ continuing popularity is a testament to their simple style, durable quality and effectiveness as means of self-expression.

For-profit organizations can also benefit from wristbands with a message, by using them to leverage their brand, using them for promotions and advertising.  The wristband’s affordable price allows companies to order them in large quantities and use them as giveaway items to employees and clients at tradeshows, events and much more. The custom made wristbands give businesses an opportunity to create their own design for specific purposes, as well as choose their own colors, font, message, image, logo, size and style.  People tend to wear wristbands long after an event is over, and if they like the design and cause, it can make for a long-lasting, low-cost marketing strategy that provides maximum company exposure to the public.

Silicone wristbands are the most popular choice for awareness purposes for a variety of reasons.  They are lightweight yet durable and perfect for long-term use. And since our silicone bracelets have unlimited personalization options they are one of the best low-cost promotional items one can use to show unity and generate support/funding.

To wear a wristband in the color or design representative of an organization or cause further identifies the wearer as an advocate or affiliate of that same enterprise. These bracelets for a cause can aid in forming bonds amongst people that share the same values, and serve as a unifier connecting people committed to the same cause.  For example, light pick silicone bands represent breast cancer and women’s health.   A red silicone wristband may represent AIDS awareness, but also represents heart disease, stroke, DARE/substance abuse, and MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).  Yellow gold represents childhood cancer causes and are considered cancer colors.

Every color of the rainbow represents a cause and because there are so many causes and affiliations that are near and dear to so many, the following guide helps you choose the appropriate awareness color to  show your support or build awareness for your mission or cause.

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LIGHT PINK - breast cancer, women’s health

HOT PINK - inflammatory breast cancer, cleft palate, gendercide

RED - heart disease, stroke, DARE/substance abuse, AIDS, MADD

MAROON - multiple myeloma, sickle cell disease, brain aneurysm 

ORANGE - kidney & leukemia cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, ASPCA, motorcycle safety, world hunger

YELLOW - sarcoma & bone cancer, support our troops/POWs/MIA, suicide

YELLOW GOLD (AMBER) - childhood cancer

LIME GREEN – lymph nodes cancer

GREEN - gall bladder & liver cancer, cerebral palsy, organ donation, mental health, missing children, literacy, dwarfism

SEAFOAM GREEN - Celiac disease, speech impediments

TEAL - ovarian & cervical cancer, Tourette syndrome, food allergies

LIGHT BLUE - prostate cancer, men's health, foster care

CORNFLOWER (PERIWINKLE) BLUE - esophageal & stomach cancer

REFLEX BLUE - child abuse prevention, diabetes, bullying, Parkinson’s disease, water quality & safety

NAVY (DARK) BLUE - colon cancer, arthritis, education, free speech

LAVENDER (ORCHID) - testicular cancer, epilepsy, cancer (all)

PURPLE - pancreatic cancer, Alzheimer’s, dementia, Lupus, anti & domestic violence

VIOLET- Hodgkin’s lympoma

WHITE - lung cancer, adoption, blindness, hope & support

SAND (PEACH) - uterine & endometrial cancer, invisible illness

BROWN – smoking cessation

GREY - brain cancer & tumors, asthma

BLACK - skin cancer (melanomas), insomnia, anti-terrorism

 

                                                                            

If you are uncertain about which band is right for you, our silicone buying guide can help!

Our wristbands are available in adult and youth sizes, a vast assortment of colors, as well as swirl and segmented bands.

Segmented bands are often associated with various causes. Some of the more popular ones include:

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RAINBOW - gay pride, marriage equality

BLACK/RED - Black Lives Matter

BLUE/RED/YELLOW - Autism

BLUE/YELLOW - Down Syndrome

BLUE/WHITE - ALS

BLUE/RED/WHITE: patriotism, remembering 9/11

As our culture around raising awareness has grown over the years, especially with the popularity of social media, the idea of celebrating, advocating and educating at certain times of the year has developed as well.  There are now entire weeks and months dedicated to learning and supporting various causes and their goals/missions around the world. Some of the countless causes commemorated by month include the following:

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