Speaking against the ‘no make-up selfie’ campaign is a little difficult as it tends to be followed by a barrage of “how can you not support something which raises money for cancer!” which is a fair argument. The campaign which has ambiguously spawned from obscurity has created a trend of women ‘bravely’ posting selfies on Facebook to raise Cancer awareness and I cannot deny that the 2 million or so that has been raised since the campaigns inception is a spectacular thing.
I have been nominated to ‘bare all’ and I won’t be doing it and here is why.
First and foremost I don’t understand the correlation between my bare mug on Facebook and raising awareness to cancer. Awareness is akin to education and the #nomakeupselfie is doing nothing to educate women about the signs and symptoms of cancer, how they are at risk and what they should be doing to protect themselves. When you posted your selfie, did you stop and check your breasts? Did you book in your annual smear? Did you even think about it? The dichotomy between the two is stark. A campaign targeting these simple tasks, which are so often over looked by women, would have been far more beneficial.
The origins of the trend are somewhat vague but I can’t help feel some have missed the point. Some (not all) have proffered a notion that it’s ‘brave to bare all’ in some way equating the #nomakeupselfie with the bravery of battling cancer which is baffling, misguided and offensive to those actually struggling with the disease. Other’s have posted the selfie but not donated which seems to be a completely fruitless task only achieving a platform for personal vanity. I can’t help but find an element of narcissism in the whole thing.
Despite being divorced from the subject of cancer, I do that a campaign that promotes natural pictures of women and normalizes unairbrushed, un-made up female faces as a good thing. Lord knows we need more of that; but I’m not sure that this campaign is really stopping the relentless scrutiny of women’s faces. Instead it has transferred the scrutiny onto female bare faces, thus changing the image but not the outcome. It is still articulates a very stereotypical view of female beauty and focusing solely on an ability to be beautiful with or without make up. I would like to see more of what women are really doing, what they are achieving, how they are smashing the barriers created around our own narrow perception of what it is to be beautiful.
Maybe I’m just a cynic but I am not doing a #nomakeupselfie; that is my prerogative. I will, however, encourage you to donate to charity if you can or better still donate your time and really see where your efforts go, it’s good for the soul. But in the name of raising cancer awareness I will instead of a selfie say this:
I implore you, women of the world, to check your breasts: often and thoroughly. Use it as an excuse of self exploration and enjoy a good grope. IT’S IMPORTANT.
BOOK YOUR SMEAR TEST IMMEDIATELY! I know it’s inconvenient, I know it’s unpleasant and I know it’s awkward to make small talk about your summer holiday in Greece while someone is foraging in your nether regions but IT IS IMPORTANT. Stop putting it off and go.
Cancer will affect most of us one way or another in our lives. Learn the signs and symptoms and make sure others do the same. These things can help to catch cancer early and save lives.