Awareness ribbons are a heartwarming way to show that you support a cause, whether it is a medical condition, social injustice or a sign of equality. The different colors used for awareness ribbons each have special meanings and can represent a certain month or general awarness regarding a particular cause. Awareness ribbons can come under the form of grosgrain ribbon pins, charms / similar products or tattoos in physical form, or clip art, vector, template, designs, images or pictures for promoting the cause for free in the digital world. Each and every color has an empowering meaning, and even can stand for multiple conditions or statements.

Choose the cause you want to support and make an awareness ribbon (or purchase them wholesale), buy a ribbon awareness charm, upload an image of the ribbon to your social media account or even get a custom tattoo if the subject is particularly close to your heart. Learn more about the history of awareness ribbons and discover a great part of them, associated with their colors or types of cancer they represent, in the article below.

History of Awareness Ribbons

Even though awareness ribbons have gained popularity in recent years, they have been around for quite some time and have an interesting story behind them. The very first ribbons that were documented in history were presented to knights in Europe in the Middle Ages. It is said that the yellow ribbon has its roots in the English Civil War, and that it came from the Puritan Army. After that, it reached American territory and is now known as a symbol for the United States Army. This fact is supported by a marching song back in the day that brought up the yellow ribbon, a song which was sung by the United States military.

awareness riboons charms of various colors

Awareness ribbons charms.

The official Pink Ribbon website states explains that” Charlotte Hayley, who had battled breast cancer, introduced the concept of a peach coloured breast cancer awareness ribbon. She attached them to cards saying, ‘The National Cancer Institute’s annual budget is 1.8 billion US dollars, and only 5 percent goes to cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.’” Nowadays, the pink awareness ribbon is by far the more popular on a global level, with men and women supporting the cause with the help of this symbol in all corners of the world.

As of 1999, the official symbol for Autism awareness is the puzzle ribbon. The Autism Society beautifully explains that “the puzzle pattern reflects the complexity of the autism spectrum”; it is one of the most unique awareness ribbons through its intricate print and has succeeded in bringing much needed attention to the cause.

Another famous ribbon color is the one that stands for HIV / AIDS, namely the red ribbon. The story began in 1991, when Visual AIDS Artists Caucus started the “Red Ribbon Project” in New York to raise awareness about AIDS. Those with the initiative did not want credit given to their individual names, but rather for the project itself and spreading the word about one of the most serious diseases in modern day society. Visual AIDS Artists Caucus explained that they chose the color red for its “connection to blood and the idea of passion – not only anger, but love, like a valentine”. The first time that the red AIDS ribbon was publicly adorned was in 1991, when Jeremy Irons wore it at the Tony Awards. Soon after, it became just as well known as the Breast Cancer Awareness pink ribbon.

Disease / Illness / Condition / Awareness Ribbon Colors

Purple Awareness Ribbons

  • Domestic Violence
  • Stroke
  • LGBT Crime, Bullying & Suicide Prevention
  • Lupus
  • Dementia
  • Drug overdose
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Orca whale protection

Gray

  • Diabetes Awareness Ribbon
  • Asthma
  • Borderline Personality Disorder

Yellow

  • Suicide Awareness Ribbon
  • Support for military forces
  • Second chances for prisoners
  • Craniofacial acceptance

Green

  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Environmental Protection
  • Child Depression
  • Lyme Disease
  • Traumatic brain injury support
  • Scoliosis

Red

  • Heart Disease
  • HIV / AIDS
  • Awareness for substance abuse
  • Epidermolysis Bullosa

Teal

  • Sexual Assault / Sexual Violence Awareness
  • Bladder Pain Syndrome
  • Desmoid Tumor
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Scleroderma
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Tourette Syndrome

Lavender

  • Epilepsy
  • General cancer awareness
  • craniosynostosis

Orange

  • ADHD
  • COPD
  • MS (Multiple Sclerosis)
  • Self Harm Awareness Day
  • Against animal cruelty

Lime Green – Mental Health

Light Blue – Child Abuse Awareness Ribbon

Violet – Hodgkin’s lymphoma (Hodgkin’s Disease) awareness

Blue and Yellow – Down Syndrome

Grey Ribbon with Red Heart – Juvenile Diabetes

Cloud Ribbon – congenital diaphragmatic hernia awareness

Black with Red Crescents – Sickle Cell Disease

Pink and Blue – Infertility, Miscarriage, Prematurityd Birth

Red and Blue – Congenital Heart Defect (CHD)

Navy Blue and White Pinstripes – Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Puzzle – Autism Awareness Ribbon

Cancer Awareness Ribbons

  • Pink – Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon
  • Clear or Pearl White – Lung Cancer Awareness Ribbon
  • Yellow – Bone Cancer Awareness Ribbon
  • Blue – Mouth Cancer Awareness Ribbon
  • Gold – Childhood / Pediatric Cancer Awareness Ribbon
  • Gray – Brain Cancer Awareness Ribbon
  • Orange – Leukemia Awareness Ribbon
  • Teal, Pink & Blue – Thyroid Cancer Awareness Ribbon
  • Navy – Colon / Colorectal Cancer Awareness Ribbon
  • Jade – Liver Cancer Awareness Ribbon
  • Green – Kidney Cancer Awareness Ribbon
  • Black – Melanoma / Skin Cancer Awareness Ribbon
  • Purple – Pancreatic Cancer, Testicular Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Cervical Cancer Awareness Ribbons
  • Burgundy – Oral Cancer Awareness Ribbon
  • Burgundy and Ivory – Head, Neck and Throat Cancer Awareness Ribbon
  • Sky Blue – Prostate Cancer Awareness Ribbon

How to Wear Awareness Ribbons

awareness ribbon tattoo

A pink and purple awareness ribbon tattoo.

The wonderful part about wearing an awareness ribbon to support a cause is that you can do so in quite a number of ways. While the traditional ribbon pinned on a top is the most common way to show your solidarity, you can also look into jewelry and even tattoos. See all the ways in which you can wear awareness ribbons below:

  • Pin on clothing (usually on the left hand side of your chest, over the heart)
  • Key chain
  • Charm bracelet
  • Pin
  • Necklace
  • Earrings
  • Bracelet
  • Tattoo

If you want a complete guide to all of the awareness ribbons that exist, search for a chart and discover all of the ideas behind the colors and what their meanings are.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

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