Story posted August 24, 2010
It's become common for patients with diseases like cancer to wear ribbons or buttons, or to sport bumper stickers that reveal the illness.
Some critics argue the trend has become just another corporate marketing opportunity. A. Myrick Freeman Professor of Social Sciences Susan E. Bell, interviewed for a segment on NPR, has studied patient responses from artists' books to photography to large political organizations.
She says it is a way to bring attention to issues surrounding illness by wearing clothing and wristbands, even tattooing, as a way to raise social and political awareness, or as a strategy for survival.
"It's a way of making it visible," says Bell in the NPR piece, "giving people some way of trying to destigmatize their conditions and to signal and make connections with people who might have, or know someone with, similar conditions."