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

Awareness ribbons are everywhere, whether in the form of car magnets, windshield stickers, or pins on our clothes. No matter where you see them, the idea is still the same: for that person to show their support to the world for a certain cause or organization.

Before writing this article, I only knew what a handful of awareness ribbon colors actually meant or supported. Are you curious, too? Here’s what the most common awareness ribbon colors mean!

pinkPink Ribbon:
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.

yellowYellow Ribbon:
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, 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.

redRed Ribbon:
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, epidermolysis bullosa, complex regional pain syndrome (formerly known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy), and vasculitis.

blueBlue Ribbon:
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, and human trafficking and sex slavery awareness (navy blue ribbon).

greenGreen Ribbon:
Green is most commonly used for childhood depression. It also represents missing children, environmental concerns, 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.

blackBlack Ribbon:
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. It’s not solely for mourning, though — black also represents melanoma awareness and gang prevention.

purplePurple Ribbon:
Purple typically represents pancreatic cancer. 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, I have barely scratched the surface on awareness ribbon color symbolism! This is just a small list of the most popular colors. You’ll likely see a rainbow of colors out there — each with an abundance of meanings — all supporting good causes and awareness organizations. 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?

Image credit to

Candice Jones

Candice is on the web team at QLP. She's extremely family-oriented and enjoys spending all of her free time with her daughter and family. She LOVES to shop and just experience life again through her daughter's eyes. There's nothing better than that in the world for her! You can also connect with Candice on Google+


  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. Jen

    What a cool post Candice! I see these all over, and never knew the colors meant so many different things! I see the yellow “support our troops” and pink “breast cancer awareness” ribbons a lot, but all of the other colors were new to me! Thanks for all the great information!

    • 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. Jaimie Smith

    Candice this was an awesome blog post idea!! I have always wondered what all of the different colors meant.
    The only ones I was really aware of was the Pink Breast Cancer Ribbon because those are ones I have seen everywhere.
    And my grandparent both died of Colon Cancer, so the blue ribbon is displayed a lot within our family.
    I think it is super cool that each color has so many meanings, and that we can all show off pride and a good cause just by simply displaying a certain color ribbon.
    Awesome post Candice! 🙂

    • 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. Mandy Kilinskis

    Great compilation, Candice!

    I always find myself Googling what the different color ribbons mean, so thanks for compiling all of the colors in one place. I think I need one of each of these. Currently, I have a friend that’s battling Lyme disease, so I’m going to get myself a green ribbon to support him.

  5. Amy Swanson

    Thanks so much for writing this post, Candice! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to search for what a particular colored ribbon represents for a product description. Now I have them in one handy place, this is totally getting bookmarked 🙂

  6. Rachel

    This is a very useful list! I never knew each color could represent so many different causes. We need more colors in the rainbow. 🙂 Thanks for the rundown, Candice!

  7. Eric

    Like Jeff said, thank you for the handy reference, Candice. Much appreciated by all us here, I’m sure, and I’d say the first step in any sort of awareness would be knowing what a particular color ribbon represents.

  8. Jill Tooley

    This rocks! It looks like the blue ribbon is used to symbolize the most causes, which I wasn’t expecting. As others already mentioned, I usually only see the yellow and pink ribbons as of late. Although, I do see the black POW/MIA car ribbons quite a bit where I live!

    Thanks for the great resource, Candice!

  9. Jerome Allen

    There needs to be a ribbon protesting assult rifles possession

  10. 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:

      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!

  11. 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!


  12. 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

  13. 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.


  14. Sarah-Jayne

    The yellow ribbon is also for endometriosis awareness 🙂

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

  18. caroline

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

  19. Debra Molinari

    What color for Down’s Syndrome?

  20. Debra Molinari

    What color for Aplastic Anemia?

  21. 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.

  22. Sheryl

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

  23. Jedidiah A Johnson

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

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