The Red Dress Lapel Pin Fights Women’s Heart Disease

Published: 09th July 2010
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If you were asked to name the leading cause of death for women in the United States, could you do it? Breast cancer, right?



Wrong. Heart disease kills one in three U.S. women each year - about six times as many as breast cancer. The American Heart Association, in conjunction with other health organizations is trying to raise awareness of the risk of heart disease in women. One of the ways the AHA is trying to raise awareness is through the red dress lapel pins.



Although many people consider heart disease a "man's disease," it's an equal opportunity killer. In 2006, heart disease killed 315,930 women in the United States - just about exactly half of the total number of heart-related deaths that year. The AHA created the Go Red for Women campaign featuring the red dress lapel pin to make people realize that heart disease is a serious threat to women.



Lapel pins have long been a way to show support for causes, including AIDS awareness, cancer research and support for those living with many chronic diseases. But the most common style, the ribbon-shaped lapel pin, has some drawbacks.



Ribbon lapel pins have been common for many years, usually with a specific color assigned to a specific illness or other cause. But with a limited color palette to choose from, it quickly becomes almost impossible for the casual observer to know what cause a particular ribbon lapel pin represents.



The red dress lapel pin, introduced in 2004, is meant to remind people that heart disease is not limited by gender, age or any other factor, and that women need to be conscious of their heart health. The simple red lapel pin is a low-key way to draw awareness to the cause, equally suited to an office or casual environment.



The red dress lapel pin, like the pink ribbon lapel pin that promotes breast cancer awareness, is a low-key way to get an instantly recognizable message to many people. Its distinctive dress silhouette is easily recognizable. Unlike most ribbon pins and other styles, it has only one known meaning. The unique dress shape, unexpected in a sea of ribbon lapel pins, might prompt people to ask what it's about. That gives the wearer an opportunity to discuss the need for heart health in a way that the more commonly shaped ribbon lapel pins might not.



That's not to say that other lapel pins can't make the same point. Red ribbon lapel pins also have a history of representing heart disease awareness, just not necessarily specifically for women. While February is American Heart Month, a red lapel pin in either style can easily serve as an awareness reminder throughout the year.



Ribbon lapel pins have a distinguished history of representing disease awareness campaigns. The first ribbon lapel pins were red strips of actual ribbon in the now-familiar looped shape. They were created in the early 1990s to promote AIDS awareness, and made their first appearance at the 1991 Tony Awards. The red dress lapel pin is one of the few awareness lapel pins that break free of the customary ribbon shape.

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