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Awareness Ribbons

Awareness ribbons have been around since ages and have been symbolic of strong concern shown towards various global causes. Different colored awareness ribbons symbolize concern for different causes. Let us take a closer look at ribbons of each color and understand the cause for which it symbolizes support.
Awareness ribbons are little pieces of colored ribbons formed into a loop and pinned to one's dress, the color worn depending upon the cause for which support is garnered. These ribbons date back to the early 1900s. The yellow ribbon was the trailblazer in representing a meaningful cause in history. It was mentioned in the marching song, "Round Her Neck She Wears a Yeller Ribbon", of the US military. George Norton copyrighted this song in 1917 for the first time. These ribbons come in a multitude of colors, each colored ribbon symbolizing an independent cause. However, many of the ribbons end up getting associated with more than one cause. Let us look into the details of what awareness ribbon colors mean and what causes they stand for.

#1. White Ribbon
White has been used for centuries to symbolize peace and safety. The white awareness ribbon stands for:
  • Anti-violence Against Women Movement
  • Feminism
  • Quebec Peace Movement
  • Forgiveness
  • US County and state fairs
  • Gender violence
  • Multiple Hereditary Exostoses
  • Bone cancer
  • Marriage equality movement to give legal status to same-gender marriages
#2. Yellow Ribbon
This color ribbon has served as a symbol of support for military troops since ages. Other causes supported by yellow ribbon are:
  • Support for deployed troops
  • Suicide awareness and prevention thereof
  • Help Unlock the Second Prison program which is aimed at assisting former convicts
  • Australian 2009 Victorian Bushfire Campaign
  • Sarcoma/Bone Cancer awareness
  • Bladder Cancer awareness
  • Endometriosis awareness
#3. Blue Ribbon
The color blue has been associated with serenity, calm, intellect and royalty. However, there is more to a blue awareness ribbon than just these. The causes supported by the blue awareness ribbons are:
  • Colon Cancer awareness
  • Prostate Cancer awareness (sky blue ribbon)
  • Tuberous Sclerosis awareness
  • Sex trafficking and slavery awareness (navy blue)
  • International No Diet Day
  • Spanish campaign for release of Basque Terrorists' kidnap victims
  • Hydrancephaly awareness
  • Child Abuse awareness
  • Anti-tobacco and anti-second hand smoke awareness in Canada
  • Bring Home Our Troops campaign
  • Online Free Speech campaign by Electronic Frontier Foundation
#4. Puzzle Ribbon
This is a multicolored ribbon that looks like it has been assembled from several puzzle pieces and it symbolizes awareness of Autism.

#5. Purple Ribbon
This ribbon is used to spread awareness for a wide variety of medical disorders such as:
  • Chiari Malformation
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lupus
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Childhood Stroke
  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Pancreatic Cancer
Apart from these, the purple ribbon is also used to generate awareness for the below causes:
  • Workers' Memorial Day
  • Domestic Violence awareness
  • Religious Tolerance
#6. Jade Ribbon
This ribbon servers to spread awareness about liver cancer and Hepatitis B.

#7. Periwinkle Ribbon
This ribbon spreads awareness about:
  • Eating Disorder
  • Stomach Cancer
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Pulmonary Hypertension
#8. Orange Ribbon
This awareness ribbon stands mostly for various illnesses besides other causes. The purview of the orange ribbon includes:
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Self Injury awareness
  • Animal protection
  • Anti-racism in Australia
  • Energy awareness in Nigeria
#9. Pink and Blue Ribbon
This ribbon stands in support of the following:
  • Infertility awareness
  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer awareness
  • Pregnancy Loss and Infant Loss awareness
  • Symbolic of Genital Integrity
  • Pro-Life/Anti-abortion campaign
#10. Black Ribbon
It mourns the infamous Virginia Tech massacre and stands in support of the Anarchist Black Ribbon Campaign.

Gray, Pink, Teal, Green, Violet, Gold, Cloud and Silver ribbons stand in relation to various illnesses, disorders and medical researches. Gray ribbon spreads awareness for mental illness, diabetes, brain cancer, asthma and zombie. Pink ribbon stands for awareness of breast cancer. Teal Ribbon creates awareness for agoraphobia, gynecological cancer, polycysitc kidney disease, ovarian cancer and sexual assault. Green Ribbon speaks out for environmental protection and 2009 Iranian Election Protest besides Aging Research awareness, organ transplantation and donation awareness and Lyme Disease. Hodgin's Lymphoma is spoken for by Violet Ribbon and Gold Ribbon stands for childhood cancer awareness. Congenital Diaphragmatic hernia is represented by the Cloud Ribbon. Silver Ribbon spreads awareness for brain disorders and, in Australia, it represents ovarian cancer.

Certain bi-colored ribbons, such as the Red-and-blue Ribbon, Orange-and-Black Ribbon (Ribbon of Saint George) and Red-and-Black Ribbon stand for several grave issues such as Haiti recovery and restoration, commemoration of World War 2 (in Soviet countries) and atheist solidarity, respectively.

Now that we have caught a glimpse of awareness ribbon color meanings and captured the essence of what these different colored awareness ribbons stand for, we can always devote ourselves to further spreading consciousness for these causes and choose to work towards any of these, contributing towards making this world a better place. As sensitive and educated global citizens, we should come forward and lend a helping hand or a patient ear for the betterment of such causes.
By Ishani Chatterjee Shukla
Last Updated: 9/26/2011
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