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Meanings for colored ribbons

Updated February 21, 2017

Sometimes a simple show of support can mean a lot to someone suffering from a disease. Support ribbons, or coloured ribbons, are simple ribbons with one end looped over the other and worn to show that you care. Although there are some support ribbons that everyone knows (red ribbons for AIDS awareness, pink for breast cancer and yellow to support our troops), there are some that are a little less well known.

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Red Ribbons

Although the red ribbons are most known for the awareness, research and support of people with HIV/AIDS, there are also other meanings. The red ribbon is also the ribbon for awareness of heart disease, epidermolysis bullosa, substance abuse and stroke as well as a symbol for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and disaster relief.

Pink Ribbons

The pink ribbon is worn mostly for those supporting breast cancer research or someone with breast cancer. The pink ribbon is also worn for those born with cleft palates, for awareness of childhood cancers and as the symbol of birth parents.

Yellow Ribbons

The yellow ribbon symbolises support for our troops. However, the yellow ribbon also shows support for MIA and POW soldiers. It's used as a symbol for adoptive parents, amber alerts, suicide prevention, endometriosis and awareness of bladder cancer. The light yellow ribbon is used for awareness of spina bifida, and the gold ribbon for childhood cancers.

Orange Ribbons

The support ribbon in the colour orange is used as a symbol for leukaemia support and research, diversity, hunger, racial tolerance, multiple sclerosis, work zone safety and self-injury awareness. An orange ribbon with a sun in the middle is in support for those with skin cancer.

Blue Ribbons

There are many different meanings of blue ribbons. Blue ribbons symbolise support for Hurricane Katrina victims, education, the Clean Air Campaign, dystonia, alopecia, awareness and prevention of drunk driving and child abuse. The dark blue support ribbon is a symbol for child abuse prevention and awareness, victims' rights, water safety, arthritis and support of free speech. The light blue support ribbon is most associated with support for prostate cancer, childhood cancers and scleroderma.

Green Ribbons

The green ribbon shows support for the research of childhood depression, research for kidney cancer, for saving our environment and for organ donors. The teal ribbon supports those with ovarian and cervical cancers and victims of sexual assault. The light green ribbon is a symbol of awareness and education of STDs and HPV.

Other Ribbons

There are many other coloured ribbons worn to support different kinds of causes. The rainbow ribbon is worn to support gay rights, gay marriages and gay pride; the jigsaw ribbon represents support for autism research; red and black ribbons are worn by the surviving family members of murdered victims; lavender and white ribbons are worn in support of missing people and their families; magenta or fuchsia pink ribbons symbolise pro-life support; and the light blue ribbon symbolises pro-choice support.

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About the Author

Andrea Griffith has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published by the "Western Herald," Detroit WDIV, USAToday and other print, broadcast and online publications. Although she writes about a wide range of topics, her areas of expertise include fashion, beauty, technology and education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and English from Western Michigan University.

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