Everyone is doing it, and if they are not doing it they are being lambasted by critics for being uncharitable – the no makeup selfies craze is the ultimate in transient guilt trips. It only takes seconds to do and the donation is a mere three pounds so what possible excuse could anyone have for not taking part and showing support for such a good cause? It has now even branched out with a male version “manupandmakeup” encouraging men to don lipstick and powder before posting their photo and donation on social media outlets in order to raise awareness of prostate cancer. The craze is still going strong and has raised over two million for the charity in question, Cancer Research UK. Yet as critics have already pointed out, while it may be an enlightening look at some women’s real faces, the trend does not actually do much to raise awareness of Cancer Research, what they do, or the individual diseases themselves. However, there is a much bigger problem with the no makeup selfie and that is the fact that it is symbolic of the deeply entrenched materialistic, short-term, self-obsession that is latent within society. The bottom line is no makeup selfies mean little to charity campaigns and causes in the long run.
For a start, throwing money at any cause has rarely gotten the world anywhere – people have been donating to all sorts of charities, causes and initiatives for years and yet no tangible progress is ever made. For instance, although the World Bank Group states that real progress has been made in terms of global poverty over the last 30 years, the number of impoverished individuals has actually risen. It seems to be a dance that just goes round in circles as for every progression there is an equal and opposite regression of some kind. But people do not question where their money is going, how it is being used or the effects it is supposed to have on the issue in question. They take a photo, send off three pounds, get loads of people to like their photo on Facebook and carry on their merry way thoroughly convinced they can now don the mantle of the Good Samaritan without pause for thought. The problem is they don’t want to really get involved; they don’t want to have to deal with the uncomfortable nature of the facts that will confront them.
To be clear, if someone wanted to end world poverty or support equality in all areas of life (gender, sexuality, class, opportunity etc.), if they wanted to make sure that they were in no way implicated in the terrible practices that lead to countries relying or eliciting charity from Western Society, then they would never participate in something as trivial and as transient as a trend on Facebook or Twitter. Because being committed to wanting change and helping that change come about, requires effort and commitment to a cause that extends a lot further than a posting a bare-faced photo online. The foundation of the trend is just an attempt to ease the global conscience in relation to charitable issues that people don’t have time for on a day-to-day basis. Everyone wants everything faster, cheaper, bigger, better, and they don’t want to acknowledge how these expectations are accommodated as the accompanying reality does not make for palatable conversation.
The other big problem with this craze is the rampant need for recognition and instant gratification that modern society thrives on. If someone wants to help Cancer Research or any other charity for that matter, there is no need to boast about it all over the internet, there is no need to expect a pat on the back or for every Twitter follower/Facebook friend that clicks “like” or “retweet”. No-one does anything for nothing, and this no makeup selfie trend has almost nothing to do with raising awareness of cancer and almost everything to do with raising people’s own sense of personal worth and their idea of themselves as philanthropists. Even before women all over the country started wiping furiously at their faces with makeup remover or men started pouting scarily for the camera in a dashing shade of luscious melon, people were well aware of cancer. As a disease it is probably one of the most well-known and most feared diagnoses a doctor could deliver.
So instead of following the crowd and jumping on the bandwagon of no makeup selfies before swiftly jumping off and forgetting about the long haul journey ahead for the charities, perhaps people should set their sights on a more beneficial form of support. While Cancer Research UK were all too happy with a campaign they had no hand in creating, they were quick to point out that if people were interested in helping they should visit the official website and look further into what options are available. Of the thousands of people who have posted pictures of themselves either with or without their slap, what is the reckoning on how many of them actually followed through and got more involved? The fact is that in the long run the no makeup selfies mean very little to these charities and the causes they support, as at the end of the day not everything is about image or money. So if people want to get more involved there is an endless list of things they could do from donating old clothes to charity stores, volunteering at cancer research events or initiatives or reading up on the disease and posting something more useful than a self-indulgent photo thinly disguised as charitable support.
By Rhona Scullion