Make-Up Less Selfies: They Are Helpful

With the abandonment of "NekNomination", it was inevitable that a new Facebook idea would go viral. This time, my newsfeed has been amassed with make-up less pictures posted by females, in an attempt to raise awareness for Breast Cancer.

The idea is that a female takes a photograph of herself without any make-up on before tagging a friend to do the same.

More times than I have seen one of these 'selfies' though, have I seen rant after rant from other individuals criticising those who have taken selfies, on the grounds that it isn't a) donating money to the cause, b) actually raising awareness for Breast Cancer, and c) is 'attention-seeking'.
They are helpful!
I'd like to rebut all three of these claims, and explain why this behaviour should be embraced and applauded.

Firstly let's explore the criticism that those taking the selfie pictures have not donated money to the cause. A photograph of a female without make-up on should not lead to the presumption that said female has not or will not donate any money to this cause. It is likely that many of these women have contributed to Breast Cancer research at some point in their life by, for example, completing the race for life, or buying a Breast Cancer research pin badge or bracelet. Just because they are not donating money right at this moment in time, does not mean to assume that they haven't donated money ever.

Additionally, given the current financial rut and unemployment levels in England, it might be fair to say that charity begins at home. Perhaps some of the females participating in this viral campaign may not be able to afford to donate money to the cause. Thus they take to showing their support to the cause in other ways.

Secondly to those who are lambasting females on the grounds that a make-up less selfie is categorically not raising awareness for Breast Cancer Research. I'd like to dispute that immediately, given that Breast Cancer Research is supporting a constant and timeless illness unlike a non profit organisation raising money for a specific cause at a specific time, such as those charities representing countries like the Philippines. This means Breast Cancer Research has less opportunity for 'mass drives'.

By this I mean since they are around all the time, there is only so much money the organisation can spend themselves on trying to convince others to donate. Therefore what these females have done is commendable; they have taken autonomous responsibility to kick start a new wave of donation for this cause, without the organisation having  to get involved. For me, this is a clear demonstration of raising awareness.

However, for those who think that raising awareness should be about showing people how to check for lumps, or to be reeling off statistics, then I pose that if it is not raising awareness then it is at the very least showing support.

Thirdly the claim that these females are 'attention seeking' ought to have your instant dismissal. In an age where the media is potentially the most influential model for young women, where make-up brands fill shelves upon shelves of shops, where there is inherent pressure on girls to look "good", I think it's beautiful that so many young females are coming together for a cause which could affect any one of them, and taking their make-up off for a photo.

For some of you this may not seem like a big deal at all. Given that the majority of females wear make-up most days, there is an element of bravery in taking it all off and putting a photograph on the Internet for everyone who knows you to see. Many women feel "naked" without make-up on, and more so, many women feel "ugly" without make-up on.

What has been awe-inspiring in this campaign is to see these females being complimented on their natural appearance. I've seen other women and men show females that we do not need to wear make-up all the time to look beautiful.

The thing that riled me the most was the incessant cat-calling, the bitter rants and the ugly character of some people on my Facebook newsfeed crawling out over these make-up less selfies.

If you're arguing that a selfie with no make-up doesn't help this cause, then I'd like to suggest that writing bitchy Facebook statuses whinging about it, also does not help this cause.

I for one think it's great that women are showing support for Breast Cancer UK, raising awareness for the cause, and undermining the values the media imprints on us daily all at the same time. It is for these reasons, that if I get tagged, I will definitely be sharing my make-up less selfie.



  1. This is such a great article - I'm going to be sharing it on my Facebook later on (with my make-up-less selfie) because you've hit the nail on the head with everything you've said! Especially the part about how it's just putting the idea of fundraising into people's heads, I bet the various worthy cancer charities are incredibly grateful for having some work done for them. With every positive, well-meaning campaign comes the people that can't help but moan about it. It's boring, it's completely unhelpful and it's totally missing the point!

  2. This is fantastic! You have summed it up perfectly! I thankfully have not seen any of my friends complaining about the no make up selfies, I have seen the majority of them joining in. I have seen some of the negativity on some pages but what we are all doing is amazing and if people feel the need to be ignorant and rude then they can just do one :) x

  3. I'd be interested to see how you would respond to the criticism that it actually does harm in terms of breast cancer awareness...

    Each year, around 400 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK. This campaign is aimed directly at women. This further propogates the idea that men can't get the disease. Admittedly 400 is a small number compared to around 55,000 women, but that's quite a utilitarian way of looking at it.

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment.

      While the majority of participants are themselves female the campaign is directed at breast cancer, not at breast cancer in women. I have seen men putting make up on to get involved in the campaign.

    2. All of the nomakeup selfies I've seen haven't been aimed at breast cancer but at cancer research as a whole.
      Also I think that the nomakeup selfies may be aimed at women because most men don't tend to wear makeup maybe?

  4. This is basic

  5. saw this status the other day on my fb news feed posted by someone I know:
    Hate people who are complaining about no make-up selfies because it's not doing anything significant to actually raise awareness. I notice how it's the lads who are mentioning this when weeks ago they were all doing neck nominations for absolutely no reason! It's about showing people who are affected by cancer that we care, and unless you know anyone affected by cancer you probably don't realise how much it can affect someone's life! Personally I see people affected by cancer every day when I'm on placement in the radiotherapy department, so I know it's the little things such as these selfies that can help a lot.

  6. Great article, but there's also the element of pressure - similar to NekNominations, surely some women, when tagged, feel pressured into taking photos of themselves with which they are not comfortable with? Though they may receive wonderful comments about their natural beauty, which I believe is something very much overlooked in society, there's always the worry that you will be perceived differently by those who are used to seeing you with makeup. In other words, if someone you knew saw the photo, and they'd never seen you without makeup before, they might make shallow judgements on your physical appearance. Worse, there is even the threat that some horrible person will remark on how differently you look, although thankfully not many people know someone capable of doing this.

    Let's be clear: I am not condemning the notion of raising awareness of cancer. That is effectively what people are doing when they say the selfies are 'attention seeking' and all that bullshit. But I'm sure in some cases, women may feel pressured into posting images where they feel "naked" and "ugly", as you explain, online. Despite the praise for their natural appearance, some women will always worry about what the other people viewing the selfie will judge of them. This could easily be their boss, colleague or close family relative; i.e. someone whose perceptions matter to them. And if they receive a negative comment, that will always stick with them because of the sensitivity of the subject - few people can easily brush off being insulted on their physical appearance.

    Of course, some women tagged who feel this way will just decline to do it. But with everyone else doing the same thing around them, some will undoubtedly feel the force of peer pressure. I'm sure plenty of men were uneasy about doing NekNominations, but as it became such a fad, they were indirectly pushed by their peers into doing them.

    In a nutshell: This campaign's intentions are absolutely fantastic, and the use of social media to spread awareness is great. But it has this minor flaw, which may apply to some women, that has been relatively overlooked in the heated atmosphere of debate. Although it's a minor flaw, and does not outweigh the positive benefits this campaign brings, it does mean the campaign is difficult to describe as perfect. This is something people are increasingly doing as the debate becomes more heated.

    Correct me if I am wrong (constructive criticism, please). I am a man, after all.

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