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What Does That Awareness Ribbon Mean? Symbolism for 7 Popular Colors

Awareness ribbons are everywhere and each one means something different depending on the color. Whether it’s green for an environmental cause, blue for bullying awareness, red for heart disease, or any other color of the rainbow, the idea is still the same: for a person to show their support to the world for a certain cause or organization.

These ribbons come in all forms. They can be car magnets we put on our back bumper, stickers we place on notebooks, or even pins we attach to our clothes. No matter where you display them, you’re giving the world around you a glimpse into what you stand for, and in turn, encouraging them to support the cause as well. These ribbons are powerful little symbols of big missions.

*Please note, the ribbons pictured here can be used to support more than just what’s listed and new ribbons and causes are constantly being added. 

There are so many options and causes, it’s hard to know what the colored ribbons stand for. Luckily, we’re here to break it all down. Here’s what the most common awareness ribbon colors mean!

 

Pink RibbonPink Awareness Ribbon PNG Download Button Final (1)

Pink is most commonly associated with breast cancer awareness, but it’s used for more than just that. What many people don’t know is that pink ribbons are also symbols for respecting birth parents and for childhood cancer awareness.

 

Yellow Ribbon Yellow Awareness Ribbon PNGDownload Button Final (1)

Yellow is commonly seen as a symbol to support our troops and to give us hope. However, it is also a symbol for POW/MIA (Prisoners of War, Missing in Action), suicide prevention, adoptive parents, spina bifida, sarcoma, missing children, bladder, liver, and bone cancer, craniofacial acceptance, and endometriosis. Also, be aware that a yellow ribbon with a heart is used to represent the survivors left behind after a suicide.

 

Red RibbonRed Awareness Ribbon PNGDownload Button Final (1)

Red is generally used to show support for the fight against HIV/AIDS. This rtghibbon is also a symbol for stroke, heart disease, substance abuse, MADD, DARE, Evans Syndrome, epidermolysis bullosa, complex regional pain syndrome (formerly known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy), and vasculitis.

 

Blue RibbonBlue Ribbon PNGDownload Button Final (1)

Blue is associated with child abuse awareness/prevention. It is also used to represent drunk driving awareness, colon cancer (alternative ribbon color: brown), dystonia, bullying awareness, osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease), addiction recovery awareness, prostate cancer, Huntington’s disease, domestic violence, victim’s rights, free speech, Canada’s National Non Smoking Week, chronic fatigue syndrome, human trafficking, and sex slavery awareness (navy blue ribbon).

 

Green Ribbon Green Awareness Ribbon PNG Download Button Final (1)

Green is most commonly used for childhood depression. It also represents missing children, environmental concerns, glaucoma, kidney cancer, tissue/organ donation, cerebral palsy awareness and support, Lyme disease, liver cancer, pedestrian safety, traumatic brain injury awareness and support, and craniosynostosis awareness for varied organizations.

 

Black Ribbon Black Awareness Ribbon PNG Download Button Final (1)

Black ribbons are used as general symbols for mourning, and you may see magnetic versions raising awareness for POW/MIA as an alternative to yellow.  This color is used as a sign of mourning, but also represents melanoma awareness, sleep disorders, and gang prevention.

 

Purple Ribbon Purple Awareness Ribbon PNG Download Button Final (1)

Purple typically represents pancreatic cancer and epilepsy. It is also a symbol for Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, animal abuse, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, fibromyalgia, sarcoidosis awareness, thyroid cancer, ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), and religious tolerance.

 

Believe it or not, we have barely scratched the surface on all the awareness ribbons and their meanings! For instance, burgundy is used to support disabled adults and sickle cell anemia, while white is used to bring awareness to blindness and scoliosis. You’ll see a rainbow of awareness ribbon colors out there — each with an abundance of meanings — all supporting good causes and organizations.

If you have a cause around the corner and need any of these ribbons, you can download free awareness ribbons clipart above. There are also personalized awareness ribbons available at Quality Logo Products!

No matter which cause you support, be sure to do it with pride in as many forms as you can. You can never show a good cause too much love!

Which one of these awareness ribbon colors was new to you? Did we miss anything? Which causes do YOU support?



Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa loves food. A LOT. Particularly pizza and popcorn, but she knows beggars can’t be choosers. When she’s not stuffing her face (which is rare), she loves watching movies, playing volleyball and softball, and engaging in any number of interesting shenanigans. If she had to pick a spirit animal, she’d be an otter because they are playful and love to laugh. Most of the time she’s laughing at herself, whether other people are laughing with or at her is to be determined.

Comments

  1. Jeff Porretto

    Give me one of each! Support ALL THE THINGS!! Seriously though. Many of these have affected my family directly, so thanks for letting me know which colors go with each. Now I have a reference to always turn to!

    • Candice J.

      Yeah I’m the same way! I am willing to support any good causes whether it effects me personally or not. Because I know if i was in that person’s shoes i’d hope to do the same for me!

  2. Candice J.

    Yeah I was the same way. I really only knew about yellow, red, and pink awareness ribbons. Even then though I wasn’t aware that they represented so many different meanings. So i’m glad i did this post because it just gave me so much more information into what everything means and represents.

  3. Candice J.

    I think the color ribbon that problem has the most meaning to me that I was aware of until researched the colors for this post is the Green and Blue Ribbon. I actually had a cousin who died from complications from having cerebral palsy. We always support the institution that take care of him and donate to the cause as much as we possibly can but I never knew that the Green Ribbon was a symbol for that affliction. Also I didn’t know that the blue ribbon also represented drunk driving awareness. When i was younger my dad was almost killed by a drunk driver so i take a VERY STRONG stance on that so it was nice to know i can display a blue ribbon to represent that. So now that I know I plan on displaying a those ribbon colors high and proud all the time. Its amazing once you start talking to people how many have been effected by something on that list and how a ribbon color/symbol can probably to anyone.

  4. Jerome Allen

    There needs to be a ribbon protesting assult rifles possession

    • janette hopkins

      Yes absolutely. <3

  5. Nita

    I completely agree with showing support. Your cause with a color. Ans ironically every color on
    This list have effected my life or someone important to me. I would have to say that i support
    Each and every one of them, even
    though some mean more to me than others. My mother was murdered 3 yrs
    (Its still undolved). I have not fpund a color for this situation. If there is one can uour
    Let me know what it is… other than black. If there isn’t one, can we creat one.
    Thank you fof takilng the time to read this, and I enjoyed the articles and comments bu other
    As well. Thank you again

    • Bubba

      Hi Nita,

      I believe red and black ribbons may be what you’re looking for: http://www.ribbonsforareason.com/category_s/96.htm

      Thanks for your kind comments about the post, glad it helped you! Best wishes to you and your family. We’re so sorry to hear about that. 🙁

      Good luck!

      • Shelly

        Nita, I am so sorry for your loss. I will be praying for you and your family,

  6. Lois Fetzer

    We have been trying to locate the ribbon color for spinal cord injuries/trauma and can’t find anything…… Could you help us please, we are having a walk-a- thon for my son????

    • Jill Tooley

      Hi Lois,

      I’m not 100% sure on that one, but this site states that green is the ribbon color for spinal cord injury and research. Hope that helps, and good luck!

      –Jill

  7. paige rohr

    Wow I had no idea what some of these meant thanks so much this blog should be followed with the less commonly known ribbons I could seriously use some or even all of these ribbons a lot of them have affected me and my family

  8. Shanice

    Thanks for the education. Please add white which is voilence against women and children abuse…..

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Good idea, Shanice!

      I will be updating this post very soon to add the white ribbon.

      Thanks!

  9. Sarah-Jayne

    The yellow ribbon is also for endometriosis awareness 🙂

  10. Andrea Mallory

    Thanu u for all the info about ribbons. So many affect alot of us and its wonderful to know we can wear a ribbon for each cause we support!

  11. louisa hernandez

    Thank you for the info on what the meaning of each ribbon is. A lot I can relate to with family n myself. Thank you.

  12. V Hayes

    Green also represents mitochondrial disease. Mitochondrial disease is considered “rare” yet more children die of it every year than childhood cancer. There is no cure!

  13. caroline

    Hi could anyone tell me what colour portal hypertension ribbon is please x

  14. Debra Molinari

    What color for Down’s Syndrome?

  15. Debra Molinari

    What color for Aplastic Anemia?

  16. Leslie

    The red ribbon also represents those of us left behind by loved ones lost to Cancer. It also represents caregiver appreciation. Both are a little twist on the original meaning which is Love.

  17. Sheryl

    Uh yeah you forgot a biggie!! The clear ribbon for lung cancer!

  18. Jedidiah A Johnson

    As well don’t forget ribbon of puzzle pieces for autism

  19. Jen

    After reading your great post, I was looking for the blue circle representing diabetes and came across this very extensive list of ribbon colors. Wow! I had no idea.. http://www.disabled-world.com/disability/awareness/ribbons.php

  20. Breauna

    The red ribbon also represents burn survivor .

  21. Dave Anderson

    I think that it is important to support funds for cancer awareness. These pins are a great way to raise money for prostate cancer research and awareness. The more people that wear them, the more known the problem of prostate cancer is. I think that it would be a good idea to use social media as well to be able to spread knowledge of the problem.

  22. Amina

    Hello there ????
    What color should we use to support thyroid diseases such as hypothyroidism? There is too little known about this and yet it’s very difficult to deal with.
    Thank you,

  23. Sarah

    Pink is NOT the color for childhood cancer awareness; gold/yellow is.

  24. Taylor Hicken

    It’s crazy to think that there are so many different colors to represent awareness groups. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to buy a few prostate cancer pins for my family. My grandpa has been diagnose with cancer, and everyone is freaking out. I just hope that I’ll be able to find a shop that sales these pins.

  25. Somer

    Purple ribbon also represents epilepsy, which does not get enough awareness nor do people realize how many people especially kids who pass each year due to a seizure.

  26. Allison

    I would like to know if there is a color for the heroin/opoids awareness

  27. Tia

    The Purple Ribbon also represents those who have Epilepsy. I can comfirm that since I have epilepsy. I would like for that to be added on the description for the Purple Ribbon description ????

  28. cherrie gicaletto

    I may have missed it but what is the color of ribbon for victims of a mass shooting? It uggs with great sadness that I ask this question today as if there isn’t one, unfortunately we need one.

    • Alyssa Mertes

      Hey Cherrie! Looked into this a bit further for you and the black ribbon, which is associated with mourning, is also used for gun control and trauma. While it isn’t the specific color for mass shootings, it has been used to represent numerous causes associated with gun control.

      Take a more specific look here: http://www.ribbonsforareason.com/Awareness_color_meanings_s/96.htm

  29. Darlene

    Gold ribbon ????childhood cancer

  30. JB

    Does anyone remember how all this got started? It was the first red ribbon for AIDS awareness.

  31. Denise C

    My Oncologist Put a Purple Ribbon On My Profile, Yet I Was Diagnosed With Small Cell Lung Cancer, I’m Curious If That Is Correct?

  32. sig

    hey so i noticed that the purple ribbon i already knew what it mean but you left out epilepsy the purple ribbon is also for epilepsy awareness

  33. Heather

    Dark blue is also for arthritis

  34. Emma

    Purple is also the color for chiari awareness 🙂

  35. Lisa

    It was interesting to read everyone’s input. Wonderfully surprising to find not one negative comment. Congratulations! You have all made my day better. We can use a red ribbon to represent Passing Happiness Forward!

  36. Madeleine Wilson

    I support purple ribbon because I am the first generation to have focal temporal and frontal epilepsy with partial seizures in my family I was diagnosed when I was 10 years old and now I am 17 so I have had it for 7 years I have came to the age where I am not afraid to let out what I have when I used to be scared to tell people and how they would react about it. Although, when I told my recent ex boyfriend about it he basically called me dumb in nice ways because he would think I didn’t know I was talking about even though I did. I am truly blessed that I could drive a car 7 years day seizure free but I was on a 4 year streak of night time seizure free but I broke that streak in November which is odd because that was the month I was stuck in the hospital not knowing what was going on for 4 days during Thanksgiving break. I am also, truly blessed my family and I made it so we could celebrate Thanksgiving even though I felt guilty because my family didn’t get to have a fun break that year it was scrappy because of me. Support epilepsy!!!

  37. Beth Parker

    Thank you for presenting such a large array of ribbon colors. There was one you missed: the Black Ribbon also represents Narcolepsy Awareness. Perhaps the day will come when these ribbons will no longer be necessary.

  38. Kelli D

    Purple is suicide awareness, not yellow from what I’ve researched. Plus turquoise is juice prevention. And most often these days, they’re worn together in a single ribbon.

  39. Kelley Oostveen

    What colors are for Reactive Attachment Disorder and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum? I’m trying to raise awareness because there is NO therapies, etc that insurance companies will pay for FAS and teachers, etc don’t believe kids with RAD can NOT choose to behave. It’s VERY frustrating when my 2 Grand sons are discriminated against!

  40. Rob H

    While I think these are all good causes, I’m a little disappointed that credit wasn’t given to the artists and designers who came up with the ribbon idea. Nowhere is this mentioned in this article or any of the posts.

    The red ribbon was the first ribbon of this kind and symbolized the AIDS crisis. It was created by a group of designers and artists in NYC in 1991. The ribbon symbol was copied by the breast cancer movement, and while this may sound mean spirited, I’ve always felt it took away focus from the AIDS movement which desperately needed attention at the time. I’ve also thought that the breast cancer awareness organizers weren’t creative enough to come up with their own symbol. Seems like every other organization is jumping on the ribbon bandwagon.

    I’ve been an HIV/AIDS survivor for almost 34 years now. Please give credit to the artists who came up with this idea. They didn’t trademark or copyright it, perhaps because they wanted the message of love and support to be spread.

    • TS

      I think it is great that you are a 34 year HIV/AIDS survivor. I agree credit should be given to the creator of the ribbon symbol. I am very glad that you posted this, I always thought that it was the Breast Cancer organization that started it. But perhaps no one has given credit to the author of this post because she has left out SO many diseases/disorders, like so many other lists do, which is discouraging because they are AWARENESS ribbons, a complete list should be here. If someone is going to take the time to make a list, they should dedicate themselves to what they mean and make sure it is a complete list. I work for a non-profit that helps people with disabilities and I have epilepsy myself, I can understand how people feel, I made a comment myself below.

  41. Olabisi

    Very good job. Impressive. It was really helpful and straight to the point. Thanks.

  42. Litabit Ped

    What color symbolizes oral cancer (cancer of the tongue)? My 27-yr old niece has it and she has been undergoing treatment since last month.

  43. Lisa

    Purple is also use for epilepsy awareness. My great nephew has cerebral palsy and epilepsy so we frequently wear purple and green together. He is the smartest little boy and has already learned to use an electronic talker to get some of his needs and wants out and he is only 4 years old! Without these organizations and awareness he might very well be stuck in his own body

  44. unknown

    I am doing some research on cancer. i always google cancer names and signs. no matter how hard we all try fight for surviors and peop,le going through cancer. I have a firent who is a survior her name is ***** pray for all

  45. Mara

    Purple= EPILEPSY
    Epilepsy is alwaya left out!

  46. Mara

    These are ones I know of & paint my nails these colors for the month.
    Green- Brain Injury
    Purple- Epilepsy
    Orange- MS
    Transgender- blue, pink, white
    Lgbt- rainbow colors
    Hiv/aids- Red
    Blue- Autism
    Green- Mental Health
    Purple- Lupus

  47. Carlous

    Why does all other ribbons carry multabale repecentation except pink. Men fight cancer also.

  48. Tracy

    Glad I found this I am considering crocheting awareness ribbons now I have the colors

  49. Katherine

    I’ve alway thought the yellow ribbon was the first actual ribbon for soldiers who were deployed or missing? I had no clue aid/hiv started the movement, weird knowledge.

  50. Lex

    Diabetes – Blue
    Gastroparesis – green

  51. Ava

    Woke up with this on my mind. I saw a couple out to dinner this evening and I recognized that she was battling some type of cancer. She had on one of those fashionable scarfs. I am also dealing with cancer. I wanted to know how I could let someone know that I understood in a sutle way. I looked up ribbons and like a lot of people I only knew about the red, pink and black. Is there a general color if you don’t know what type of cancer a person is dealing with but want to show your support? Thank you for the information.

  52. Tusanita Mapuola

    This ribbons are very helpful, but is there any color for abusing women?

    • Alyssa Mertes

      Great question, Tusanita! Domestic violence is represented by the color purple, which can be found on the awareness ribbons and other promotional materials.

  53. Jose Luna

    TEAL should be one here too!
    #SexualAssault

  54. TS

    The purple ribbon also represents epilepsy, the third most common neurological disorder, millions of people have it. I can’t believe that you listed animal abuse and not epilepsy. But I have to say that most lists that I have found online are not complete lists, but other lists do include epilepsy. If we ever want to advance people have to recognize the importance of these ribbons, TO SPREAD AWARENESS. Help bring peoples attention to the disorder/disease, as Susan G Kolmen’s sister, that is why everyone knows, what the pink ribbon represents. Her sister promised her when she died of breast cancer that she would spread breast cancer awareness and she did a great job! I am sure you have seen the sign, BRAINS ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS BOOBS. I am sure that came about because more people die from epilepsy now than breast cancer, yet federal funding for epilepsy is still underfunding because of the awareness, most people don’t know much about epilepsy, but breast cancer has awareness and funding, even though The Epilepsy Foundation was established in 60’s and the Susan G. Komen Foundation was not established until the 80’s.

    • Alyssa Mertes

      Thanks for reaching out! The ribbons listed above represent multiple causes and new causes/colors are being added all the time. Of course, every cause that’s represented is just as important as the last and we appreciate your feedback and have incorporated it into the post.

  55. steven

    Proudly wear the Red Ribbon 8yrs since I’ve had Hiv

  56. Tyler

    Congratulations. We’ve become such a culture of victim mentality that everyone thinks they should have a ribbon, for anything. To the point where one color represents a bunch of things. This has completely watered down the point.. which was HIV awareness.

    It’s mind boggling to me that people with insomnia need a ribbon. This started with AIDS… and now we’re wearing ribbons for people who are not sleeping so well.

    Well done people.

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