Years before Lance Armstrong became persona non grata in the world of cycling, he made the yellow Livestrong silicone wristband cool when he wore it in the 2004 Tour de France. That spawned a popular trend that exists even today, widely adopted by festivals, charities and various causes. Yes, they are colorful and look cool. Yes, virtually everyone wears at least one. Yes, they are found everywhere, but why, exactly, are they so popular?
They Raise Awareness
Let’s start with the real benefit of these gel silicone bands. For example, even though Lance Armstrong fell out of favor, it doesn’t diminish how much money and attention he raised for cancer research through his Livestrong Foundation and the yellow wristbands of the same name. As of 2012, Forbes reported that the foundation had raised more than $500 million since its inception. The charity he founded continues to raise awareness through funding research and education today.
When someone wears one, you automatically want to know what it is for. The more colorful, the more it raises interest, which is vital for all diseases but particularly for rare ones. How many people have heard of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome or Babesiosis? That is why these wristbands are important.
They Make You One of the Cool Kids
Since humans have a natural tendency to herd, we feel that we must all have what the next person has so that we are not excluded. Once you acquire the in-demand band, then you must one-up the next guy. Everyone is wearing yellow, light blue and red? Well, then you must get the zebra one. Once the next guy sees that, he feels the pressure to get one, too.
Peer pressure can absolutely happen with these. “Wait, you AREN’T wearing the Time’s Up one? Do you not think awareness of sexual assault and harassment is important? Andy Samberg wears one.” Get the point?
They Are Smart Marketing
With the popularity in the non-profit sector, it was only natural that it would catch on with the for-profit companies. Businesses have spent years trying to find the right marketing tool that everyone will want to use repeatedly to keep their name first and foremost in the minds of potential customers. The gel bracelet is an easy and popular way to do that. Why would you pick one up and carry it around when you can just put it on your wrist?
They Are Effortless
Hypoallergenic and non-toxic, they are impervious to water and virtually fadeproof. They can be worn by anyone, anywhere, anytime and with anything. You can work out in them, shower in them or wear them to bed without worrying about damaging them.
The ubiquitous gel band, synonymous with awareness and support, now reaches out to the masses with a variety of messages. Bracelets are fashion statements, a cry for help, silent protests or announcements of new products. They come in every color imaginable and are worn not only by regular people but by journalists, doctors, celebrities and activists alike. Wear one or stack a few. Everyone else does.