What are Rubber Bracelets?

S. Mithra

Rubber bracelets are a visible and attractive way to publicize your devotion to a certain cause, sports team, or identity. Bracelets are wide, flat bands that stretch to fit around your wrist or forearm. Starting with the Lance Armstrong Foundation's idea for raising money for cancer research and education, proceeds from purchasing charity rubber bracelets often go to a non-profit organization engaged in important fundraising.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

The start of many people wearing rubber bracelets began with Lance Armstrong's popular attempt to unite those living with cancer under a single organization. His foundation promotes the possibility for victims to "LiveStrong" while battling the disease and searching for a cure. In 2004, he joined with other companies to launch an initiative where selling yellow rubber bracelets emblazoned with the LiveStrong motto would raise money, one dollar at a time, for research into cancer and support for awareness and prevention.

The rubber bracelet craze was galvanized by a few other major disasters that required immediate and generous funds. For example, international terrorist attacks and the devastating tsunami of 2004 have motivated many charities to sell rubber bracelets to benefit victims of these phenomena. They borrowed from the efforts of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Since silicone rubber is easy to mass manufacture and cast in bright colors, it became a popular option for charity organizations to raise funds and publicity for various causes.

The unisex rubber bracelets originally appealed to people's desire to proclaim their devotion to a particular cause, even if they have since become a fashion trend. Organizations have raised millions of dollars for cancer cure research, war refugees, rebuilding countries flattened by the tsunami, and HIV education.

Some bracelets are imprinted with a phrase, such as, "Support Our Troops," in addition to a colorful design or emblem. Of course, they are color coordinated to their cause, so patriotic bracelets have red, white, and blue stripes, while breast cancer bands are pink. Events, such as marathons, auctions, or marches, often sell rubber bracelets so everyone can show their solidarity.

Rubber bracelets are not limited to supporting humanitarian causes. Once they received widespread media attention, young people have popularized them as fashion statements that incorporate funny phrases, messages, and favorite cartoon personalities. For example, two teenagers may have matching friendship bracelets that proclaim, "Best Friends Forever." Some wristbands have swirling rainbow patterns, while others are fluorescent colors that can glow in the dark.

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