“No makeup selfies” do little for cancer awareness

(Anne Gaslin/TommieMedia)
(Anne Gaslin/TommieMedia)

Are you aware that breast cancer exists? Aren’t we all aware of this awful disease that causes hundreds of thousands of women to suffer? Great. Then do we really need makeup-free selfies posted on social media to “increase awareness”?

After the drinking nomination game Neknominate gained popularity, many people decided to post something a little more family-friendly, if you will. The new trend became posting a selfie without makeup and then nominating others to complete this “brave” task as well.

Some justified the posts, saying they were meant to raise awareness for breast cancer, and I’m sure their intentions were good. But there was a majority of posters who had no clue why they were doing this.

Curious for proof? Hit up the hashtag archives on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Using the hashtags #nomakeup #selfie #cancerawareness #BCA, I scoured the captions of hundreds of no-makeup selfies, and I was fascinated with my findings.

“Here is my no makeup selfie or whatever this is! #nomakeup #cancerawareness”

“Although this isn’t the best way to support breast cancer awareness… #nomakeup #BCA”

“I didn’t want to buy anything for the fight against breast cancer so #nomakeup #selfie”

“Sweatpants, hair-tied, chillin’ with no makeup on; that’s when you’re the prettiest, I hope that you don’t take it wrong #nomakeup #selfie #cancerawareness” (Really? You’re going with a Drake quote in this situation?)

Mind blown.

Some of these people realize, and even admit, that their bare-faced selfies make no impact on the fight against breast cancer whatsoever, yet they choose to post anyway. If you’re naturally gorgeous without makeup and want to post a selfie to show it off, go for it. Embrace that natural beauty, ladies. But I don’t agree with trying to justify it by claiming to do it for a cause, especially if you do it knowing it doesn’t help anything or anyone.

With a little more digging around cyberspace, I found a Time magazine article that explained this phenomenon. As this article and others state, the origin of the trend is up for debate, but the overall consensus is that a majority of people following this fad are abusing a concept that could potentially have a strong, positive impact. Most people fail to include in their posts that after sharing your selfie and nominations, you should text ‘HOPE’ to the phone number 20222 to donate $5 to the American Cancer Society. This is an action incorporated with awareness that will actually make a difference.


But what does this have to do with makeup free selfies? Why not just create a trending hashtag and spread the word about sending the text to donate?

Some people claim the act of posting a selfie of your natural face makes you vulnerable, thus it classifies as an act of bravery. But women battling breast cancer have to be brave on a daily basis—comparing the two sets of women is almost offensive.

Sure, breast cancer patients maybe appreciate all the support, but not when the form of “support” is more self-absorbed than it is supportive. Labeling these selfies with the intention of breast cancer awareness is unfair if you don’t include the means to help the cause.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is something completely different. It represents an act of awareness that actually makes a difference in the efforts toward finding a cure. Countless companies incorporate the pink ribbon symbol or even just the color pink into their products every October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They donate portions of their profits toward legitimate foundations for breast cancer research. Herein lies the concept of “breast cancer awareness”—truly making a difference.

The more effective forms of breast cancer awareness also encourage early detection methods and for women to take action. This is part of what makes the concept of awareness so important.

I respect those who went about these selfies with good intentions of spreading awareness, and I can understand why they were posting these makeup-free selfies. But whether or not the good intentions were there, we have so many better ways to be supportive of such an important cause that affects so many people.

So ladies, let’s turn off the selfie cameras and find a better way to truly make a difference in the fight against breast cancer.

Anne Gaslin can be reached at gasl8257@stthomas.edu.

One Reply to ““No makeup selfies” do little for cancer awareness”

  1. Men can get Breast Cancer too. If you want to help raise awareness sign up for St. Thomas’s Relay For Life on May 2, 2014!

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