Rubber bracelets, made from discarded 0-rings or rubber bands, first became popular as part of the anti-jewellery movement. Coloured rubber or "jelly bracelets" went in and out of fashion throughout the 1990s, but the success of the Lance Armstrong Foundation's yellow Livestrong wristband, first introduced in 2004, made coloured rubber bracelets popular symbols for various causes.
Rubber bracelet colours can symbolise the wearer's support for medical or social causes or a particular sports team or country. Each colour has a specific meaning, and various organisations create personalised rubber bracelets to raise awareness and funds. Some rubber bracelet colours do not have a particular meaning at all; they are simply worn for fashion or fun.
Red bracelets may show support for HIV/AIDS research or raise awareness of heart disease. Orange bracelets often show support for multiple sclerosis research or antismoking campaigns. The most popular yellow bracelet is the Livestrong wristband, which supports cancer research and encourages survivors, but it may also show support for troops. Green bracelets typically mean that the wearer supports environmental causes or muscular dystrophy research. Blue can represent several causes, including child abuse prevention and support for prostate cancer research. Purple bracelets can signify support for research into Alzheimer's disease, cystic fibrosis, fibromyalgia and lupus. Pink bracelets typically show support for breast cancer research. White bracelets often show support for peace or religious issues. Black bracelets may represent mourning, prisoners of war, gang prevention, skin cancer research or counter-culture movements.
Some rubber bracelets feature more than one colour, or multiple coloured symbols. Red, white and blue bracelets, or those with American flag emblems, may demonstrate patriotism or support for the military, or they may serve as a remembrance of September 11th. Rubber bracelets bearing the colours from flags representing other countries may show national support or identification, or they may celebrate a holiday, such as wearing a bracelet bearing the Irish flag for St. Patrick's day. Many sports teams sell rubber bracelets with the team's colours and logo. Multi-coloured or rainbow bracelets may show support for gay pride, multiculturalism or autism research.
Many rubber bracelets also feature words to clarify their meanings. For example, pink rubber bracelets in support of breast cancer research or survivors often feature a slogan, such as "Find a Cure" or "Hope," while pink rubber bracelets for girls may carry words like "Princess." Orange rubber bracelets in support of MS research often carry the phrase "I Will," while orange bracelets from the American Cancer Society bear the message "Live Free. Smoke Free."
Many websites offer customised rubber bracelets and stock bracelets. If you want to create custom bracelets for an event or organisation, match the colour of the bracelet with its meaning. For example, a rubber bracelet that promotes environmental causes might be green or brown. Consider adding printed or embossed words onto the bracelets to help clarify their meanings.