When considering the state of breast cancer awareness in our society, It’s hard not to immediately picture that looped pink ribbon that symbolizes the battle against the disease. That internationally-recognized badge was the invention of one of the world’s most prolific beauty gurus.
Evelyn Lauder (née Hauser) was born in Austria in 1936, and her family fled Nazi-occupied Europe for the United States soon after. After marrying Leonard Lauder (son of Estée and heir to his family’s enormous cosmetics empire), Evelyn played an active role in the business, balancing executive duties at her husband’s company with extensive community service work. Having battled and overcome breast cancer herself in 1989, she founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in 1993. Along with her friend (and former magazine editor) Alexandra Penney, Lauder also developed the Pink Ribbon campaign as a way to further spread awareness of the deadly disease by reminding women of the importance of regular mammograms. And thanks to the hundreds of million dollars she raised from charitable benefits and donations, Lauder was able to open the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in her native Manhattan just two years ago.
In the midst of her tireless crusade against cancer, the philanthropist also developed fragrances and directed marketing strategies for Estée Lauder, eventually rising to the position of senior corporate vice president at the company. And even after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, Lauder’s daily work and mission to spread cancer awareness continued.
Evelyn Lauder passed away last Saturday at her NYC home, a result of complications from her disease. She leaves behind a legacy of incredible charity, as well as a constant reminder for all of us to "think pink." We look back at her life in pictures below.
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