Make up-free? Not for me.

Make up free selfieIt doubtless won’t have escaped your notice that this week the latest Facebook trend is make-up free selfies.

You probably know why as well: it’s a viral campaign for Cancer Research. Post a selfie, make a donation. Everyone’s doing it. Well, not everyone. Just women. A few men have come up with an alternative, posting selfies IN make-up. But, yeah, it’s mostly women.

I’ve been nominated but I’m not doing it. Not because I don’t want to be seen without make-up (although I’ll readily admit I’m not wild about the idea… I do wear make-up and I do battle daily with myself over that as documented HERE) but because I object to the premise that being seen without make-up is a donation-worthy act.

Still, while I huffed and puffed about it, the charity received £2 million in donations in just 48 hours. You can’t argue with that, you might say.

Of course, my issue isn’t with the people who’ve done it and even less with the people who’ve donated as a result of seeing it but with the person or people who came up with it. And, moreover, with the culture in which getting women to effectively sponsor each other for going without make-up is a viable campaign strategy.

So although I don’t deny that it works I can’t NOT protest it. And if I needed a better example of just what kind of culture it’s playing to, last night the following appeared on my Facebook feed:

Facebook Twat: Going for a pint. Much needed after this week. Girls get ya make up back on. Some shocking images this week have really scared me.


Following several comments from both guys and girls along the lines of “ooh harsh, mister! heehee” and “eek, hope you weren’t talking about my pic ;)” he returns to hammer the point home:

Facebook Twat: The 6 ladies that commented above certainly have nothin to sorry about! For a start u are either married too, or about to marry my closest. So…..u are all clearly fitties. However I have still witnessed some terrible atrocities this week and am now going into counciling. Get a grip to the bisons.

Obviously no one he knows would marry anything less than a “fittie” – that’s a given. So don’t worry ladies, you are acceptable. You can continue to exist and may bare your face with impunity (though presumably not too often).

But among these complicit fools (or what Ariel Levy would call Female Chauvanist Pigs), there are apparently a few people with brains. And one of them calls him out:

Girl With A Clue: Bit surprised at how low this is for you – it is no wonder so many girls feel so shit about themselves with posts like that from guys.. tut

But don’t worry, Facebook Twat didn’t actually mean that seeing women without make-up is offensive. No, no, Girl With A Clue. God love you but you’ve totally misunderstood. What he meant was that the people posting the picture have missed the point of the campaign and are posting “very average” pictures.

Yeah, and actually helping those less fortunate means everything to him (I’m reasonably sure he’s talking about people with cancer here, not just people less good-looking, but who knows). The problem is none of these “bisons” really understand what they’re doing.

Facebook Twat: I love the fact u have commented and love the fact that u say what u feel! So much respect to u. Unfortunatly u seem to be one of the few who misunderstood my comment, So- In short, my rant and message was totally directed at the massive number of girls who chose to use this recent pr stunt to put up very ‘average ‘ (in some cases) pictures of them selves rather than to use the opportunity to Actually examine what it’s there for and raise awareness. Pressing a ‘like’ button means zero to me. Helping those less fortunate and utilizing a current media stunt means everything to me. This is regardless of if the reader is an absolute stunner, or Unfortunatly ‘a bit of a bison. ‘ . The point desired is the understanding of the current stunt, not the physical attributes of the lady. Love u for the message and comment though and so much respect. X

Um… okay, where to start with this?

From what I can gather, according to our pal, nobody who has posted a selfie this week has any inkling of why they’re doing it and is therefore subjecting her Facebook pals to her make-up free face FOR NO REASON.

His advice therefore is, rather than share your bison-like visage with the world, you should go and have a quiet sit-down and think about what the campaign is for. Once you’ve worked it out (it’s about CANCER, okay, not your horrible face – although again, I am giving him the benefit of the doubt here as he doesn’t actually make it clear that he knows what it’s about) then and only then may you post a selfie. But only if you’re a “stunner.” The rest of you can donate and keep quiet, thanks.

In a way I understand what he is getting at when he talks of the “massive number of girls who chose to use this recent pr stunt to put up… pictures of them selves.” Selfies are a ‘thing’ as we know and there is undoubtedly a bit of a trend for posting these sort of ‘oh god, don’t I look terrible – I’m pretending to post it ironically but please like it and make me feel better’ selfies and the viral campaign feeds that insecurity and narcissism.

It also confirms the idea that women must a) attain beauty in order to be acceptable and b) be constantly attending to and maximising on that goal. This in turn fosters a culture in which a woman’s bare face is deemed offensive and consequently that a woman ‘baring her face’ is seen as brave (I mean, seriously, let’s just think about that sentence for a moment). And while Facebook Twat may not find vanity very appealing, I somehow doubt he really gives a shit about these wider implications.

(I could bang on about the condescending message of “love” and “respect” to the girl for saying what she “feels”, or even just point out that the plural of bison is ‘bison’ but I’m starting to shoot fish in a barrel now.)

Anyway, best of luck to Cancer Research. If you want to give you can bypass Facebook and just do it here:

Or text BEAT to 70099 to donate £3.

By the way, just in case Girl With A Clue thought she might actually have got through to him, somehow, on some level, Facebook Twat’s mate, Facebook Wanker, weighs in to sum things up:

Facebook Wanker: Who did you get to type that last message lol what’s that coming over the hill is it a monster that song has been in my head all week lol

[NB Names have been changed…]

*UPDATE* This post has been amended. I originally wrote that the #nomakeupselfie was a PR strategy for Cancer Research. In fact it isn’t actually an official Cancer Research PR strategy – it’s an organic viral thing which people have since associated with the Cancer Awareness hashtag. The charity have come out in support of the money raised but it wasn’t started by them.


2 thoughts on “Make up-free? Not for me.

  1. Candid shots in bad/indoor lighting with a perhaps not so great camera and flash photography is bad and unpredictable enough let alone going make up free for them. I find it insulting that people would donate for this like saying ‘you wear so much makeup all the time that it’s like a mask and I have no idea what you look like so I’ll pay you to go without’. I also don’t understand how this relates to cancer, if they were saying boycott your cosmetics that have potential carginogens in them or feed into industries with cancer causing worries then ok – but that said, plenty of fund raising is done by stunts unrelated to the cause and more about doing something unusual/daring so in that sense I can see it.

    I’d rather just give directly, raise awareness about the topic(s) directly and pay attention to local politics/charity work like lobbying and EDM’s etc.

  2. What I find most irritating is that everyone papers to be accepting that because it has worked (ie got more donations and raised awareness) then it is okay.

    So maybe the ends justify the means… But that doesn’t mean ‘case closed, it’s ok to focus a campaign around the attractiveness of women, thereby continuing a culture in which the primary judgement of women is on their aesthetic, because, guys, it’s for CANCER’.

    Guh. Thanks for writing this so I didn’t have to think of more words to express my thoughts.


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