Yellow Magnet Ribbon Sticker Thingees

A few months ago, when I went back to the hometown for a wedding, I noticed that everyone had these yellow ribbon things on the back of their cars. Big ugly yellow ribbons. At first I thought they were stickers, but it turns out that they're magnets.

Even my mom. On the back of her soccer mom van. And I haven't played soccer since 2nd grade when I was in the "munchkin" league. But that's a whole 'nuther thing.

So I asked my mother, "What's up with that?" And my mother said, "Well, you put one on your car if you support the troops. They used to cost more money and the money went to the troops, but now you can buy them at the dollar store, so I don't think any part of that dollar is going to the troops."

No doubt my mother got hers at the dollar store.

But, still, I was confused. I mean, first, you put one on your car if you support the troops? What does that mean? Are there people that don't support the troops? You may not support the war, but everyone supports the troops, right? Second, if you're buying them at the dollar store, what's the point? And, finally, if they cost a few bucks, why not donate the few dollars to some actual troop (whether through an organization or just your own "see a guy in uniform, give him a buck" campaign) and skip the big ugly sticker-that's-really-a-magnet?

At the time, I was going to blog about it, but I thought (or perhaps hoped) that it was really only something they did in that one little suburb. And, without some kind of camera phone to document it, I thought that all my readers would say, "Ribbons? Magnets? What the heck is she talking about?"

People just don't have ribbons sticker magnets in the big city. Probably because they would just get stolen. (Actually, to be honest, that's what I was thinking when my mom was telling me that you could buy them at the dollar store: Why pay a dollar when you could just take one for free off any car in this lot?)

When I returned to the hometown for Christmas, I saw that not only had the phenomenon not disappeared, it had actually grown. In fact, I saw one car that was all ribboned out. It had a pink ribbon, a yellow ribbon, a flag-themed ribbon, an anti-abortion ribbon, and even some kind of ribbon with a soccer ball pattern on it. What does that mean? You support soccer?

But, finally, someone is doing something about these lame magnets. And, I, for one, support that. Please check out AntiMagnet, it's hilarious.

Special thanks to ai for the link.

Update: I just saw this post on Andrew Sinclair about the magnet ribbons, and he raises another good point. What's up with the crooked and sideways magnets? Morevoer, I agree that people with ribbon magnets are just fad bandwagon jumpers.


  1. Thank you for the comment. It drives me nuts too. I always wonder if those people are critically eyeing the other cars saying, "fucking communist, no ribbon magnets THERE, I should report them to the office of homeland security." And the ribbon magnet whores are funny too. They remind me of the people who put those oval tourist location stickers on their vehicles from every place they might ever get to in a lifetime.

    I think we should ask people getting out of cars with support the troops ribbon stickers how many care packages they sent to Iraq or Kuwait or Afghanistan or anywhere else in the past year. Tell them you're taking a survey of patriotic Americans and they'll be so happy to answer you.

    Superpatriotism, by Michael Parenti - a must-read for this phenomenon.

    Thanks again, like your blog.

  2. I think it's the way uber Conservatives identify each other.

  3. I don't see too many of those magnets in Dallas, but I saw them on almost every car in my hometown of Wichita. It was strange. I remember that after 9/11 a friend tried to give me an ugly looking US flag that was waving. He said that I should put it on my car to show that I supported the US. Huh? To me, all of this is more about showing your neighbors that you "support" the troops or the US, not the troops or the victims of 9/11. The sad things is that I'm sure some people are making a lot of money off this.

  4. Oh thank God someone else spoke about this. This has been driving me absolutely crazy. I see this on almost every car where I am. Driving to the highway, on the highway, to work, in the parking lot. Hell, even my boss has one. It's absurd! It certainly is becoming an identifier. What does that say about us that don't have these tacky things on our cars? Are we stylish? Or do we not support the troops? Or does it further the conservatives idea of the bourgeouis left? I'm going with A.

  5. Patriotism is often the disguise used by all manner of scoundrels. They wrap themselves in the flag and then denounce their opponents for insufficient love of America. I understand why many people regard effusive displays of it with suspicion. But...

    My wife and I have these stickers on both our cars.

    Yeah, the troops can't see them. But our friend Susan, whose 19-year old son is in the Marines and headed for Iraq, she can see them fine. She knows we're there for her, but one more little reminder that we're thinking of her probably can't hurt. So, for a buck, I'll slap a sticker on my car and maybe Susan or some other soldier's parent feels a little better.

    (And if the Chinese guy makes a few cents in the process, I'm okay with that.)

    You may not support the war, but everyone supports the troops, right?Sadly, no. Some people want bad things to happen to our soldiers so the U.S. will withdraw them, or so Bush will be humiliated. And there's also this sort of thing:, wishing doesn't make it so, it's just talk, so they're not hurting anyone, but I'm guessing soldiers' families don't like hearing it much. So a ribbon seems like a small, small way to counteract those other messages.

    I always wonder if those people are critically eyeing the other cars saying, "fucking communist, no ribbon magnets THERE, I should report them to the office of homeland security."

    I guess I can't speak for others, but I really don't pay that much attention to it. If you don't put a ribbon on your car, I assume it's because you don't feel the urge. I really don't care. It's not like I've got the ribbons on my car just to get in your face about it.

    As for really supporting the troops, I gave Susan's son a wedding present when he got married just before returning to duty. I also took a bunch of photos of the wedding and burned them to a CD for his mom. I think that counts.

  6. It doesn't surprise me that a blonde little law girl that defends criminals wouldn't get the concept behind the ribbons. As the previous comment pointed out, many people do not support the troops or the events in Iraq. Whatever your position, these stickers, magnets whatever simply serve as a reminder that people's children are dying everyday fighting for our country. That's right our country. The one that let's us have little defense lawyers such as yourself. The one that let's people who commit crimes have a second chance. This country allows for 1st amendment rights. Am I wrong?

  7. I went and bought a ribbon, yet I've not put it on my car. The reason people put them on sideways is because that's the only part of the trunk that's metal so that the feker will stay. I hate the way that looks, so I don't.

    I support our troops, yes. As many do. Yet believe it or not, many don't. I'm a firm believer in supporting the troops always. They didn't ask to be there. You don't have to support the war. That's another matter all together.

    That's why I refuse to do business with Starbuck's Coffee. Some troops' wrote them a letter asking for a hook-up cuz they missed home and all. Starbuck's basically said sorry bout your luck. We don't support the war effort so screw you. And it was phrased almost exactly like that.

    Mind you, I think that's poor business. More importantly, don't take out your views on the ones that are giving their lives to make sure that you can speak your mind without retribution.

    That's my piece on the matter.

    And for that guy that posted ahead of me? Relax and get laid,buddy, you'll be happier and not have to be snarky to someone you don't know just because you can. Dumbass!

  8. Allbilly, you're an ass.

  9. Ok, so there's been a lot of back and forth (and round and round) on this topic over the past week or so.

    I have a few final thoughts.

    First of all. Obviously, there are some people who have put a lot of thought into the fact that they support the troops and want a way to show it and have chosen to do so by putting a magnet on a car. I respect that. But, there are also a lot of people who obviously just jumped on a trend without much thought. (I mean, the woman with the soccer ribbon magnet - Is it possible she stood in the store and said "This would be a perfect way to show my support for soccer?") And I believe that when something (even something legitimate) becomes a fad, it loses meaning.

    Second, more on the fad thing, just because a fad has the ability to show support in something you believe in, doesn't mean it's a good fad. If the next fad were to draw a ribbon on your forehead for whatever cause you love, I wouldn't do it, even if it were my #1 cause. I just think it'd look stupid and not do enough to advance the cause. And these sideways magnets certainly don't add to the aesthetic value of your vehicle either.

    Finally, the removability of the magnets just further supports the fact that this is just a fad. I mean, if you support the troops, that's great, and if you think showing a ribbon is going to make people (the troops, their families, whoever) feel more supported - then why wouldn't you want to do it permanently? Because you really only support the troops when everyone else on your block does?

    And yes, you could try to tell me "It's a lease..." "...I can't ruin the paint..." but, seriously, that's probably only legit in a tiny percentage of the cars. Some of these people have other stickers on their car. So, "This car climbed Mt. Washington" is something worthy of permanency, but supporting the troops isn't? They just jumped on a bandwagon - most likely without putting any thought into the meaning. And that's not cool or noble or doing the right thing, that's just kinda lame.

  10. Your "soccer ball ribbon" you saw, may have been an Autism Awareness Ribbon, it has a puzzle design in random bright colors. People who donate to curing, treating and raising awareness about autism use this kind of ribbon.
    To help educate, here is a list of ribbon colors and their associations.

    What Ribbon Colors Signify:
    Black: Anti-gang, Melanoma, Mourning, In Memoriam
    Brown: Colorectal Cancer
    Burgundy: Hospice Care, Multiple Myeloma
    Dark Blue: Child Abuse, Water Quality, Crime Victim Rights, Arthritis
    Gold: Childhood Cancer
    Gray / Grey: Urban Violence, Brachial Plexus, Brain Cancer, Diabetes Awareness
    Green: Ecology,Environment, Organ Donor, Ovarian Cancer, Missing Children,
    Leukemia, Childhood Depression, Bone Marrow Donation, Lyme's Disease, Tissue Donation, Worker Safety, Lymphoma, Glaucoma,
    Light Blue: Prostate Cancer, Scleroderma, Trisomy 18
    Light Violet/Lavender: Hodgkin's Disease, General Cancers, Epilepsy, Rett Syndrome, Gynecological Cancer
    Off Pink: Bone Osteoporosis
    Orange: Racial Tolerance, Cultural Diversity, Feed the Nation, Highway Safety, Hunger, Leukemia, Lupus
    Orchid: Testicular Cancer
    Pearl: Lung Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis
    Periwinkle Blue: Eating Disorders, Pulmonary Hypertension
    Pink: Cancer, Breast Cancer, Birth Parents
    Purple: Violence, Children with Disabilities, Domestic Violence, Pancreatic Cancer, Alzheimer's, Crohn's & Colitis, Cystic Fibrosis, Fibromyalgia, Leimyosarcoma
    Red: HIV/Aids, DUI Awareness, Substance Abuse, Epidermolysis Bullosa, Lymphoma
    Teal: Ovarian Cancer, Substance Abuse
    White: Right to Life, Alzheimer's, Adoptee, Diabetes, Student Sexual Assault
    Child Exploitation and Abuse, Retinal Blastoma
    Yellow: Come Home, POW/MIA, Support, Equality, Endometriosis, Adoptive Parent,
    Suicide, Spina Bifada, Missing Children, Troop Support

    I hope this helps to educate people.

    BTW, magnets are great cause one can replace it when weather-worn or sun-faded.

    Also, displaying torn-up, weathered, and faded US flags do bother me, I wish others had more respect for our country's flag.

    Our country's flag is not a colored ribbon, or a fad, it's meaning is deeper and older than most people, unfortunately.

  11. I just wanted to say that I didn't see any reason for people to have them, until....My daughter at 13 months old was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. Then I started to understand. Most people who have the colored ribbons have, in some way, had their lives touched by the whatever the ribbon is for. It is nice for those of us who had this happen to them to know that they are not alone in the fight for a cure and awareness. People don't just buy them for no reason. I bet if you stopped and asked most people why they have them they will tell you of someone they know that has touched their life.

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  13. Until you live with a horrific disease that can take over your body one day...some of these ribbons are a way to get the message out that there are people out there living with a disease.This is a way so that people can help to find a cure. I have Multiple Sclerosis and i am only 34. My hope is that they find a cure soon so that I can grow old with my husband, and enjoy my grand children. These ribbons are not hurting anyone, I understand you have your right to say what you want, however think about how you would want the word to get spread to find help for a cure.

  14. Grrr... fine, yes, I somehow deserve to someday suffer a horrible disease because I think the ribbons are stupid looking. Ok.

    If you're trying to get attention for your cause, why not just spray paint, "HELP FIND A CURE FOR MS" on your car? Because you think it's unattractive? Ok, well, I think ribbons are unattractive.

    Or because buying the ribbons somehow donates money to the cause? Well, wouldn't you be donating more money to the cause if you just sent a check and didn't ask for something in return?

    I resent you saying "Until you live with a horrific disease..." you have no idea what I've lived through and you don't have the guts to put an email address so that I can tell you about it. Oh, but maybe if I put a sticker on my car that would somehow change things.

  15. And wait, I'm not done with you. The post was about YELLOW RIBBONS. Ribbons for MS aren't even yellow.

    And, who are you standing up for? The people who have 10 different colored ribbons on the back of their car just because they think it's pretty and they were at the dollar store? You think somehow they're helping your MS?

    You write "This is a way for people to help find a cure." How does buying a yellow ribbon at the dollar store help find a cure for MS? Get real!

    If you have one ribbon like this:
    on your car, maybe you're somehow identifying something you care about, the same way I could by putting a sticker with the name of my favorite sports team or whatever else I want to identify myself with. But jumping on a fad doesn't identify anything.

    Do you think the thousands of people walking around with counterfeit Livestrong bracelets are doing something good? They didn't give their $1 to Lance. Maybe they're doing something good by spreading awareness... but I bet there are some who aren't even aware of what it is or why they're wearing it - it's just a fad to them. How does that help cure cancer?

    If you think it's pretty or you think it does something good, then by all means, I'm not stopping you. But to say to me, "Until you live with a horrific disease..."?!?! Like somehow I will or should or don't already JUST BECAUSE I DON'T LIKE YELLOW RIBBON MAGNETS?!?!? That doesn't cure you, that just makes you a self-pitying bitch.

  16. Oh, and one more thing for the anonymous commenter who left a long list of all the different colored ribbons...

    (And yes, I realize, these are probably people who searched once for "ribbon magnets," found my blog, commented, and will never come back to read my comments to them...)

    I KNOW WHAT A SOCCER BALL LOOKS LIKE! IT WAS A SOCCER BALL! I'VE PLAYED SOCCER, I'VE WATCHED SOCCER ON TELEVISION, I'VE WATCHED FRIENDS AND RELATIVES PLAY SOCCER. IT WAS A SOCCER BALL MAGNET. AS IN "MY CAUSE IS SOCCER. I LIKE MAGNETS." Thanks for the list, maybe it will be helpful for someone, but no, I did not possibly confuse a soccerball with a rainbow puzzle design.

    The ribbon magnets are just a fad, and to some people they convey absolutely nothing except an ugly way to "decorate" their car.

    At this point, I am closing the comments on this post. Seven months is enough, and obviously many people are missing the point of the original post.

    If you'd like to find another website where they point out fads and misadventures in design that the writers don't like I'd suggest this one. They talk about a lot of ugly fads there every day, and you can go there and stand up for them or just go talk about your own thing and wish disease on people without ever reading what they wrote in the first place.

  17. Wow! These comments are getting heavy. Reading these posts have really caused me to think and realize that I have a conundrum You see, I see nothing wrong with Urban Violence, but I'm opposed to Brain cancer. What do I do?

    And, I'm sorry to hear that you have MS, MS fighter, but it seems to me that you've lived a pretty full life when you have grand kids at 34. I'm jealous.

    But I have learned one thing. Instead of giving thousands of dollars to cancer hospitals, sending care packages to our troops, and running 5Ks to raise money for MS, I'll just go to the dollar store and buy a cheap magnet. I mean that's what the anonymous poster and MS Fighter. Thanks you guys. You've saved me money. See you at the dollar store.

  18. Alright, alright, stop the insanity, people! I'm all for a healthy debate, but I think this is out of hand.

    Comments are hereby...