Make Up Free Selfie for Cancer Awareness

Ah yes, the latest piece of Facebook “Slactivism”. Remember all the cryptic Facebook games that did the rounds in October? And that somehow sharing the colour of your bra without telling men what it was all about somehow raised cancer awareness? Well, a new craze is doing the rounds – the “make up free selfie”.

What’s wrong with posting a photo of yourself with no make up?

Nothing. I’ll get to that in a minute.

The craze encourages women to do exactly what it says with the hashtag #nomakeupselfie. You then nominate some female friends to do the same thing. This apparently raises awareness of cancer.

As I mentioned in my blog post about FB games, this does nothing to raise awareness of a horrible disease. First of all, it’s fair to say that virtually everyone is already aware of cancer. Not everyone is aware of the symptoms and the importance of being aware of your body. Therefore, if you really want to do something for cancer awareness why not simply remind people to check their bodies, post a link to a useful website, remind people of the symptoms, or make a donation? It’s a fair comment that not everyone can afford to donate, but awareness of what to look out for is equally important and sharing information costs nothing and may actually help someone. Posting a picture doesn’t tell people what to look for, how to check, or where to donate money if they wish.

I have noticed a few people joining in with the craze have also mentioned that they have donated to charity and include a phone number where you can do the same. These people have actually done something. However, the vast majority are not. I believe that most people doing this are well-meaning and think that by taking part in this latest piece of slactivism that they are doing some good. But stop and think about it. Does posting a photo of yourself not wearing make up advise people of what to look out for? No. And when the photos are often accompanied by statuses such as “omg, I look so rough”, “omg, I look like a boy”, “can’t believe you nominated me”, it really defeats the point as it becomes about the individual and not cancer, especially when they descend into “ur gawjus dnt wry” comments underneath. If you really must take part, why not caption it with something along the lines of “I’m going without make up to raise awareness of cancer. Check your body for unfamiliar lumps and moles”. This at least reminds people of the importance of being aware of your body.

And this leads me into my next point. Women should not feel ashamed of their appearance. Women should feel comfortable with how they look. Women should not be called names for wearing make up, nor should they be made to feel ugly for not wearing make up. Not wearing make up shouldn’t be a “brave choice”. Implying that it is somehow courageous to go without wearing our daily war paint sends out a terrible message. It is saying that we are scared of what people think and should instead conform to society’s ideal of beauty.

Not a good message. Wearing make up shouldn’t be a big deal. Going without make up shouldn’t be a big deal either.

Do you want to raise awareness of cancer? Do your friends a favour and remind them all to check their bodies. Social media is a powerful tool, as this current craze shows. So use it for some good.

Edited to add…

Wow, it appears that some good has been done this time with lots of people now putting their hands in their pockets, although there still seem to be a lot of attention seeking individuals out there who aren’t even referencing cancer when taking part. Some suggest this is thanks to the backlash of cynics like me saying “what’s the point?” but obviously this is good news for the charities. Now let’s have some awareness of symptoms and how to check, in addition to donations – we all know cancer exists.

Edited to add…AGAIN (25/03/14)

Gosh. £8,000,000 is a huge sum of money, but this is apparently what has been raised. I stand corrected; perhaps viral trends can make a difference. I still maintain that the message sent out by this is appalling though – daring to bare should not be considered brave. Rescuing a child from a burning house? Brave. Sharing mastectomy scars? Brave and I cannot find words to describe just how much respect I have for these gutsy ladies. But not wearing make up? Society has a lot to answer for if it maintains that this is a brave action. Be confident in who you are. A friend of mine doesn’t wear make up. So she donated to a cancer charity and instead posted an infographic with the signs to look for. I hope more do the same.

Useful links and further information:

The Breast Cancer Site

Macmillan Cancer

NHS Cancer Symptoms

NHS Cancer Screening Programmes


5 thoughts on “Make Up Free Selfie for Cancer Awareness

  1. I understand your point, but If cancer research recieve the money and the awareness then I say its a good thing. Maybe someone will click their link, read uo on a few things maybe donate further. No one is trying to hurt or annoy anyone, and yes there will be a few that make it about themselves. Ignore them. You cant change The world, but you can take a selfie-donate to cancer and keep checking for those lumps and moles. Have a nice day x

  2. I don’t get it either but at least the charities are making money out of attention seekers so that’s good! Have seen a few selfies showing mastectomy scars which makes more sense and is brave!

  3. I don’t the idea that was ever to inform people that cancer exists. I know cancer exists as I have lost many loved ones to it. Who doesn’t know it exists? In a world where it’s almost too familiar for many of us – why shouldn’t we welcome something to come along and make us think about it afresh and get us talking about it? A campaign doesn’t have to have a point beyond raising an issue and trusting the people to think for themselves…does it have to be measured in money and donations? Why do you assume they have done nothing but post a photo? Could it not be that they’ve gone away and checked their body? Researched how they can live a more healthy life? Decided to help at a hospice or volunteer for a charity? Taken up exercise? Or quit smoking? These public seemingly random campaigns can spark personal change that’s difficult to measure. Clearly it has raised stacks of cash, but why be negative about it because it’s not raising pounds? I find your idea that we ‘simply remind people to check their bodies, post a link to a useful website, remind people of the symptoms, or make a donation’ quite naïve. When is the last time any successful piece of persuasive comms or campaigning was that direct? Do you think that would have been trending worldwide, made national headlines and sparked the conversation like #nomakeupselfie has?! You indirectly congratulate yourself and other ‘cynics’ as prompting cash to be raised but isn’t that the point? People like you, and everyone else, is talking about it and have encouraged people to really think about what awareness means to them and what part they can play themselves.

    As for a bare-face being ‘shameful’…I don’t know how that’s part of the #nomakeupselfie unless you interpret it that way. The fact is some people do and some people don’t wear make-up (there’s no shame about either choice unless someone puts it there) and sufficient numbers of women choose to for it to mean something to them to take it off. The tone has been celebratory from the ones I have seen. Something about seeing my beautiful friends celebrate themselves for just exactly who they are, I found very inspiring. Thanks for putting your views out there. It’s always interesting to read other people’s opinions.

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