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The 'no makeup selfie' - vanity disguised as philanthropy?

Over the past 24 hours, my Facebook feed has become inundated with friends, family members, and former classmates posting pictures of themselves without makeup, nominating their friends, and making a half-assed attempt to link this to 'raising awareness' of cancer. I can count on one hand the number of people who have actually linked to a page to donate to any of these charities, and only one person I've seen so far has pledged to do anything like donating £1 for every 'like' their picture receives.

The problem with this new craze is that, like my Facebook feed over Movember, hardly any people are actually putting their money where their lipstick-free mouth is. Nobody I've seen is pledging do a "Makeup-Free March", and very few of the people I've seen thus far on my feed have done any more than make a cursory caption to the effect of "barefaced for cancer awareness". It's no use saying that a picture of yourself that you would have posted on Instagram on any other day is doing any good for these cancer charities simply because you've captioned it "no makeup for cancer awareness", rather than "#nofilter #nomakeup #iwokeuplikedis". We know cancer exists, it's likely we know someone who's had cancer, and we really don't need to be raising awareness of something that will statistically affect 1 in 3 people in their lifetime (http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/ca…).

Possibly the most galling thing about the whole craze (because I don't for one second imagine that this is going to be anything more than a flash in the pan) is some of the comments these selfies receive. On one picture I saw on my feed this afternoon, the following adjectives were used to describe the poster: "brave", "inspiring", "amazing". Remember: these are being used for someone who's "bravely" (I use that word ironically) posted a picture of themselves not wearing makeup onto a social networking site. Quite aside from the volumes that speaks on society's attitude to seeing women not wearing makeup, surely the people who should be told that they're these things are people who are actually battling cancer?


But, perhaps I have to admit defeat. The Breast Cancer Campaign are reporting that they've received £15,000 in donations today, and Cancer Research UK are still looking into how much has been donated in the past 24 hours, but have said that there have been an "unprecedented" number of donations by text (http://news.uk.msn.com/selfie-windfal…), and presumably both of these are linked to the people-driven #nomakeupselfie trend. Perhaps I am just too cynical about the true motivations of these posts. But perhaps I've just seen too many bare-faced statements of cancer awareness today.

If you want to read another, far more erudite response to this, I can highly recommend Yomi Adegoke's article on The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment…

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