#nomakeupselfie has raised thousands for various charities. Excellent stuff. So now what? It takes me back to the Gap Yah 2 sketch a few years ago wherein the character talks about being just 'so aware' (for those who haven't seen it - he isn't very aware). So are you aware? Are you aware that men die every year of breast cancer? Are you aware of the symptoms of bladder cancer? Are you aware that cervical cancer doesn't often show any symptoms so it's crucial to go to those unpleasant smear tests?
Anything that raises money for research into vaccines and treatments for any cancer has to be a positive thing and if this 'awareness' campaign has made just one person go, 'oh hang on,' then it's done well; but, it's not just about that.
What exactly does this say about our society? The few people who have overcome severe insecurities, taken off their make up and posted a selfie are, combined with those who feel urgently that they need to do something, anything to promote awareness, woefully drowned out by the thousands who are posting because they, well, umm, fancy it?
So you've posted a selfie
A lot of selfie posters are in real danger of having posted a picture of themselves in order to say, 'hey look at my terrible make up-less face, gosh isn't it so terrible, I'm sacrificing my dignity for cancer. Or against cancer. Or something to do with cancer anyway.' Is this a struggle? Really? It's self-promotion with a free pat on the head. It's the same as those Facebook posts that say, 'Share if you support this, this or this. If you don't share you clearly don't care.' Guilt-tripping, or worse, shaming people into share media cannot be okay. Sharing sensitive campaigns mindlessly also cannot be ideal.
Setting a precedent
Many are saying that whatever it takes to raise money and awareness can't be a bad thing - no, it can't be a bad thing for the campaign, but it can set a bad precedent for humanity. What some of the posters of #nomakeupselfies are doing for themselves is promoting their supposed, and ironic, selflessness in order for the wider social media society to validate their charitable act. What's an actual charitable act? One that doesn't really give anything back personally.
Gushing praise for people taking make up off is not only making it seem like a brave thing to do, but in doing so, makes people think that it should only be a temporary act and that make up should be the norm. It's a whole different kettle of fish but it seems to be maintaining one problem (albeit comparably minor) in order to pretend to address another.
A lot of the people who have posted #nomakeupselfies would probably cross the street upon seeing a cancer charity worker approach them, sign-up sheet in hand. Yet if the charity involved is merely taking a mock-mortifying picture of themselves without make up and potentially donating a quid - they're on it.
More to awareness than a photograph
I spent four years in a clinical trial for a cervical cancer vaccine and, as a result, have pretty much bullied my female friends into going promptly for any tests the NHS requests of them once they hit 25. Money, national awareness and self-awareness do help but it's not just about taking a faux-embarrassed photograph of yourself with a mindless caption and a handful of kisses. It's about gaining a greater understanding of the cancers that are out there, what's being done to prevent and detect them, what you can do to care for your own health and how you can do something to help care for other people's health.
By all means take the photo, donate money, but give it some real thought too. And, while you're at it, maybe cut down on some of that potentially carcinogenic make up.