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: to proudly display your support 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.
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.
*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.
Here’s what the most common awareness ribbon colors mean!
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 nursing parents. Hot pink is used for cleft palates, gendercide, inflammatory breast cancer, eosinophilic esophagitis, and eosinophilic disease. Pink can also be combined with other colors to represent different causes. For instance, pink and black represent the loss of a female loved one.
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 awareness, 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. Yellow can also be combined with other colors, such as purple which represents autoimmune hepatitis, bladder cancer, and Sotos Syndrome.
Red is generally used to show support for the fight against HIV/AIDS. This ribbon 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. Red can also be combined with other colors and have different meanings. For instance, black and red is used for Black Lives Matter, while red and blue represents pulmonary fibrosis and many other causes.
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, sex slavery awareness (navy blue ribbon), and many other causes. Light blue represents a variety of causes including chronic illness, foster care, Grave’s Disease, and acid attacks. Blue jeans represents congenital and genetic diseases, while blue combined with other colors also have special meanings, such as blue and white which represents teen cancer and femoral acetabular impingement.
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, spinal cord injuries, mitochondrial disease, Lyme disease, liver cancer, pedestrian safety, mental health, traumatic brain injury awareness and support, and craniosynostosis awareness for varied organizations. Light green, lime green, and sea green have individual meanings. Light green represents STDs and Celiac Disease, lime represents childhood mental health, depression, and auditory processing disorder, and sea green represents stammering and stuttering. Green can also be combined with other colors, such as orange and green which represents dual diagnoses.
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, anti-terrorism, gun control, skin cancer, sleep disorders, and gang prevention. Black can also be combined with other colors to have different meanings. Black and gold is for platelet donations, while black and white represents Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis and vaccine injury.
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. Purple can be combined with other colors to support different causes, such as teal and purple which represents domestic violence and sexual assault. Meanwhile, lavender ribbons represent cancer for which a color has not been designated. Lavendar can also be combined with orange to represent eczema, psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis.
A Full List of Ribbon Colors and Meanings
Believe it or not, there are a wide variety of awareness ribbon colors! You’ll see a rainbow out there — each with an abundance of meanings — all supporting good causes and organizations. The list includes:
- Amber – Appendix cancer, Pseydomyxoma peritonei
- Brown – Great American Smokeout, Smoking Cessation
- Burgundy – Disabled adults, brain aneurysm, Hughes Syndrome, et. al
- Cloud – Congenital diaphragmatic hernia
- Cream – Degenerative Disc Disease, Developmental dysplasia of hip, spinal muscular atrophy
- Gold – Childhood cancer, neuroblastoma, retinoblastoma
- Graphite – Lead-free kids, lead poisoning
- Gray – Aphasia, brain cancer, diabetes, et. al
- Kente Cloth – Women of color breast cancer
- Orange – ADD, cultural diversity, self-injury, et. al
- Orchid – Testicular cancer
- Peach – Endometrial cancer, invisible illness, uterine cancer
- Peach & Gray – Clergy sexual abuse
- Pearl – Emphysema, lung cancer, mesothelioma, et. al
- Periwinkle – Anorexia nervosa, gastric cancer, stomach cancer, et. al
- Polka Dots – Blindness
- Puzzle Pieces – Asperger’s Syndrome, autism, autism spectrum disorders
- Rainbow – LGBTQ pride, marriage equality
- Silver – Brain disorders, dyslexia, limb loss, et. al
- Silver & Gold – Deafness, Meniere’s Disease, hyperacusis, et. al
- Teal – Agoraphobia, sexual assault, Tourette Syndrome, et. al
- Teal & White – Cervical cancer
- Turquoise – Addiction recovery
- White – Adoption, bone cancer, poverty, et. al
- Zebra – Carcinoid cancer, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, rare diseases and disorders
You can see a full list of all the awareness ribbons and what they mean in this helpful PDF!
Promote Your Cause
When it comes to raising awareness for a cause, you can never go wrong with branded giveaways. Small gifts are great ways to boost donations, whether it’s from an online gift shop or available as a prize at your fundraiser.
Here are some great customizable gifts to get you started!
Rainbow Awareness Pin – This bright pin can be used to support many causes, especially those concerning marriage equality.
Ribbon Tote – Make a bold style statement and show your support with this eye-catching bag!
2D Awareness Pin – This small trinket comes in a variety of colors, so you can easily find your cause.
Awareness Pen – You can never have enough pens, especially ones that help you raise awareness!
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?