Ribbons have been used to express solidarity on the part of the wearer with the identified cause since the early to late 20th Century. Pink Ribbons (and the color pink) are used to express support for women (and men) who are diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
In the fall of 1991, the Susan G. Komen Foundation handed out pink ribbons to participants in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors.
The next year, Alexandra Penney, who was the editor-in-chief of Self, a woman health magazine, was working on the second annual National Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue. Evelyn Lauder, who was the senior corporate vice president at Estée Lauder, was invited to be the guest editor of the NBCAM issue edition in 1992. Penney and Lauder came up with the idea to create a ribbon and to enlist the cosmetics giant to distribute it in stores in New York City. Evelyn Lauder then promised to spread the ribbons throughout the entire country, but a color for the ribbon was not yet decided upon.
Charlotte Hayley, who battled breast cancer, produced peach color ribbons. She sold them with a card saying, "The National Cancer Institute annual budget is 1.8 billion US Dollars, and only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon". Her message spread fast. This made Penny and Evelyn Lauder interested in Hayley's concept. They offered to adapt Hayley's idea by working with her. But Hayley rejected the offer, saying that they were too commercial.
After discussing opportunities with Lauder, Hayley and their lawyers, they came up with a "new" color. The new color of the ribbon was pink and became an international symbol for breast cancer awareness.
Learn more: American Cancer Society - Think Pink