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Articles > Rant April, 07, 2014

#nomakeupselfie – narcissism masked as charity?

Jack Fabian
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7.56 / 10

The newest fad has just swooped down upon the internet… Beware the ‘Cancer awareness’ no make-up selfie. Now, I have no problem with anybody who has taken one so please do not take offense. The problem I have is with the idea of the picture itself.
 The very first selfie I saw with the caption ‘raising awareness for Cancer’, sent my eyes rolling so far back into my head I could see my brain.

No makeup selfie?

Photo By Michiel S

The pictures themselves do not raise awareness for Cancer. They are solely raising awareness of the fact that people are taking pictures without any make-up plastered to their faces. My issue is that people should be donating money alongside their pictures, thus causing an effect which helps charities and potentially, the race to fight Cancer. By donating money you are adding to the cause, by taking a picture you are merely reminding everyone that Cancer is a disease which needs to become curable. There does not need to be an ‘awareness’ raised that Cancer exists – it has existed since the dawn of time and people most definitely know that it exists, especially given the fact that around 1 in 3 people develop Cancer in one form or another. There need not be an awareness raised of anything in all honesty, other than the fact that money still needs to be pumped into the medicine machine which is science.

Photo By Z Egloff

Photo By Z Egloff

The majority of people who I have seen taking these vile (when I use the word vile, I mean because of their material value, not because of the face which appears in the photo) pictures, are teenage girls. These teenage girls are not donating money to Cancer charities, they are reaping rewards for themselves if anything, receiving compliments from all their online friends who are stating that the person in the picture is ‘beautiful without make-up’. Compliment fishing is wrong, not the pictures themselves.

GirlMakeup cropped

Photo By theglowingstars

The ‘Cancer awareness’ game has become just that, a game. People are even posting these pictures with the caption ‘you have 24 hours girls.’ Sorry, what?! 24 hours and that is the end of it, is it? After that 24 hour period the people who have been nominated are no longer to spread this so-called ‘awareness?’ – the basis of these pictures in the first place. Also, the fact that people are announcing that taking a selfie without make-up means they are, in some way, brave is incredibly troubling. It somehow mimics the struggle with Cancer to these pictures and equates a terrible disease to that of thirty seconds without some eyeliner. It debases the entire concept and in my opinion, makes a mockery of the intention behind these good-willed attempts at stay-at-home philanthropy.


Photo By Simon Wick

Also, if these pictures were totally about awareness then why are people choosing to exclude an entire gender? If awareness was the main goal, every individual of society needs to be targeted and a gender neutral campaign would have been initiated. Every gender experiences Cancer, not just females. It would be unfair and unjust to exclude the LGBT and black communities so why is it okay to discriminate against gender? Simple answer? It is not okay. If awareness is what people truly want, create something more tangible which can reach every individual, achieving optimal awareness.

So, what should you really be doing for the fight against cancer?

1. If you really want to do some good for charity, donate money, not a picture of yourself without make-up.

2. If you really do want to spread awareness, make sure to include that money needs to be donated. (I have not seen a single mention of money in any of the photographs which I have seen.)

3. If the awareness was such an important part of this online ‘campaign’, why not include as many people as possible? Try not to exclude an entire gender.

Cancerpatient cropped

Photo By Jess Sloss

Again, I do not have an issue with the pictures or the people who take the pictures, that is entirely their decision. My point is that if you want to feel good about yourself and truly do some good for the cause, please donate some money or ask others to donate money if you yourself cannot afford to. The last thing I want to do is take away the morality behind these pictures. I too have suffered with the loss of two incredibly close family members due to Cancer and believe that at the heart of this campaign, some good can be done. Thankfully, a huge number of people have actually donated and real progress has been made, for this aspect perhaps the selfies are, in fact, a good idea. Social media may have prevailed yet again. But remember; awareness does not need to be raised as much as money does.

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  1. Rosalea Smith

    I think that most of the people i know who uploaded the no make up selfies are vain, narcistic and attention seeking. The recent ALS ice bucket challenge is a similar campaign that attracts a similar crowd. However, despite how many people ignore the urges to donate. These modern campaigns are a revolutionary way for charities to increase awareness and (despite how most people seem to not donate when participating in these) raises a lot of money. I think i will be able to handle a few days of irritating Facebook updates for a good cause.

  2. S

    I found out about the no make-up selfie deal through facebook when i was nominated by a friend, all the pictures I had seen had accompanying screenshots of a three pound donation to cancer research UK. I continued this and uploaded my own picture and donation. These pictures all did actually help to raise money for cancer research. They also did not exclude guys, as “make-up selfies” began going round. I nominated my boyfriend and did his makeup for him, he also donated, then nominated some of his guy friends. I understand that this trend has come from vanity, but at least some good has come of it. As far as i’m aware it raised at least 2 million for Cancer Research.

  3. Jacob Stringer

    I think that taking pictures of yourself with no make up on is the wrong way to tell people about the dangers of cancer. The people who post ‘no makeup selfies’ are merely trying to get ‘likes’ on social media and get the attention they desperately need. Instead of spending they’re time posing for a picture, they should be doing something to truly help cancer research charities.

  4. Amina Said


  5. Alessia Mobile

    My opinion is, that I don’t think almost all of the teenage girls did it for compliment fishing. Of course there are some girls that will do that but that’s merely a handful. Many teenagers these days have jobs so are able to donate themselves but for others their mums or dads may donate on behalf of them. The whole scheme raised millions for the charity and I think it was a good idea. As stupid as it may seem, some women find it extremely hard to go out with no make-up on because we haven’t been told we look good without it, so for some women they’d never dream of taking a picture of themselves without make-up. Granted I don’t think they should be called brave because it is hardly a heroic deed that will gain you the key to the city so to speak but it had a great domino effect in the sense that if your friend takes a picture and nominates you, then you take one, donate and nominate someone else and so on and so forth. I don’t think it was superficial at all.

  6. Stop hating on teenage girls and pretending that donating to Cancer Research UK is doing anything. It’s not, donating to Cancer Research UK does nothing to eliminate the core environmental/psychological/physiological triggers of cancer, especially not in the 21st century. There is more progress being made involving apoptosis in the holistic and energy treatments of this disease and until we deal with the negative externalities of the first industrial revolution there is no amount of ”pouring money into the charities” that will ever ever ever save us… Cancer is for the most part an environmental epidemic it has very little do to with drugs/medecine and any other ‘profit’ making treatment or remedies the pharmaceutical industries have to provide. Chemotherapy aside from being expensive is one of the worse treatments doctors have ever come up with, no wonder so many choose to just die once they get cancer!!!

    This article generally pissed me off. ”Give more money to Cancer Research!” what a joke. Go out and be altruistic instead of spreading chewed up propaganda on the Internet. Surviving cancer is up to the individual patient and the love/strength/support available to him, not the institutions or their ‘bazooka trying to kill a mosquito’ approach to medicine.


  7. Nicci

    Overall the campaign raised over 8 million pounds for Cancer Research, and that’s not counting the money donated to other charities too, I for example donated to Anthony Nolan – a blood cancer charity. Men seem to be getting involved too – doing ‘make-up selfies’. Everyone I have seen posting pictures has done so with a picture of their donation alongside, which is a good sign and demonstrates what the campaign set out to do. I have other issues with the campaign, of which I have outlined and explored within my blog, feel free to check it out and share your thoughts! All in all I think it has had an impact and whist their may be the odd ‘narcissistic’ few, overall it has benefitted cancer charities and therefore achieved it’s aim.

  8. O

    There are bound to be some people out there who missed the point of the no-makeup-selfie and just saw it as… well, as a time filler? An opportunity for compliments? But personally, I don’t think that matters. There were plenty of people donating along side their selfie and those who didn’t donate still spread the message- not necessarily a message that educated people on the subject of cancer, there’s little need for that now; we know what cancer is and we know how terrible it can be. The selfies were more a shout out telling everyone on that persons feed that ‘Hey, we need some donations here! Help us out and show your support!’. it spread the word that this was happening and it did a better job than just a line of text! A picture will grab your attention more than a chunk of writing (which will explain why many people wont read this comment, I’m just typing up my thoughts, there’s no colour, no image, no attention grabber other than some overuse of exclamation marks!).
    I don’t like the fact that some people took a slefie and did’nt donate- if you’re going to take part then go the full mile- but I don’t think it was a waste of time because if there hadn’t been the no-makeup-selfies how many people would have donated?

  9. Miles Smith

    For many years Facebook and other social media sites have been used as a platform for these ‘do nothing & feel good’ trends. We of course had the ‘set your profile picture to your favourite childrens tv show character and magically help child abuse’ and other such pathetic wastes of time where people got to feel like they were helping others without having to lift a finger or open their wallet, or actually cause one tiny bit of help to anyone else.

    Now I am sure the no make up selfie has caused a small increase in Cancer donations over the period that it has existed, but has it actually achieved what it set out to do? Has it informed or educated people about it? Where are the accompanying statistics, advice on checking for lumps or seeing your doctor when you’re a certain age, where is the accompanying links to donate pages of Cancer Research and other related charities? People don’t need to be made aware of cancer, everyone is aware of cancer, you can’t escape it; people need to be educated about cancer and in relation to that this campaign has undoubtedly failed.

    By far the biggest effect this campaign has had is that there are now a lot more no-makeup photos of girls accompanied by tons of messages from their friends telling them how pretty they are and what a good person they are, and while there’s nothing wrong with a confidence boost, I think society would be better off promoting attitudes that encourage people to put actual effort into helping others rather than updating their status and feeling like they’ve done their bit.

  10. LB

    Round my area every post had the number to text to donate, and a screnshot of your donation. Also males were included in ‘ full make up’ selfie.

    It was figured the same, there’s no point doing it if you’re not donating, and get the lads invoved, the more the better.

  11. Wanda Suminska

    I think the worse thing about this, is that now there has to be trends in order for people to donate to charities. I myself don’t donate as much as some people would like me to but making this a trend is the wrong way round, especially that many people did the Ice bucket challange, the no make up selfies without actually donating. It might be getting more people involved and that’s a great things, but to make it where girls only do it to fish for compliments isn’t exactly 100%. But on the upper hand it did raise tons of money.