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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Wristbands launched by Armstrong latest rage among hip

Wristbands launched by Armstrong latest rage among hip

Look for them and you'll start seeing them everywhere: brightly colored rubber bracelets

around the wrists of trend-setting Phnom Penhois.

The global bracelet fad has reached Cambodia, with increasing numbers of people sporting

stretchy bands with slogans such as "LiveStrong," "Challenge"

and "Courage."

The bracelets retail from between 1,000 riel and $1 at accessory outlets in popular

shopping venues such as Sorya Shopping Center and the Olympic Market.

The wristbands began arriving from Thailand several months ago and are copies of

merchandise used in a fund-raising campaign that began in the United States.

Lance Armstrong, seven-time winner of the Tour de France and cancer survivor, pioneered

the trend with the release of the original Lance Armstrong Foundation/Nike wristband

in May 2004, which had the word "LiveStrong" on them.

Boosted by support from talk show host Oprah Winfrey earlier this year, sales of

the yellow LiveStrong bands have raised more than $50 million for cancer research.

The popular bracelets were inspired by "baller bands", thick rubber bands

that US basketball players stretched before pickup games to get warmed up.

Numerous copycats have sprung up around the world, in all shades and for causes as

diverse as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (light blue) and Make Poverty History (white).

Other knockoffs are purely fashion items.

This seems to be the case of the Thailand-imported versions available in Cambodia.

Though they are sometimes referred to as "tsunami bracelets," there appear

to be no philanthropic benefits.

"I think they should give money to charities, because they do in other countries,"

said Bob McNaughton, 13, who owns more than 40 of the plastic bands.

Kim Chanvirak, 16, has been wearing his blue "Nike" bracelet for two months

but is unaware of any charity connection.

"I bought this one because I saw other people wearing it. I don't know anything

about their meaning - I like them because they're attractive."



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