#NoMakeUp Selfie – good cause or barely concealed narcissism

The #NoMakeUpSelfie trend is sweeping our newsfeeds with many fresh-faced ladies ‘daring’ to go without make-up supposedly in support of a good cause. But half the selfies I’ve seen haven’t even included the relevant hashtags, let alone a link to a deserving charity or the promise to donate money towards the cause. Yomi Adegoke raised some excellent points in her systematic critique of the trend which she dubs ‘narcissism masked as charity’ in her article in the Independent.


Without a link to a charity or the gesture of donation, this campaign could very easily be perceived as barely concealed narcissism with those contributing merely doing so in a self-congratulatory manner that celebrates their own beauty without achieving much else. The campaign wasn’t actually started as a cancer initiative, it began with a gesture of solidarity by Laura Lippman in support of Kim Novak, the 81-year-old actress. Somewhere along the way, cancer awareness piggy-backed onto the campaign and things spiraled from there, with over $3 million having been raised for cancer research in just two days.

This is amazing and something that we should undoubtedly celebrate, but somehow the message of the campaign has got lost in translation and many selfies are barely linked to cancer awareness at all. Some people also take offense to the message of the campaign itself – the fact that women who dare to wear no make-up are brave as supposedly they are ‘exposing themselves’ and thereby making themselves vulnerable; a questionable, somewhat tenuous and possibly debilitating link to cancer itself. I have to agree with Yomi; this is a sad reflection of today’s society and the ideals of beauty we aspire to. Supposedly, the campaign was initiated as a means of normalising going make-up free, but in my mind it achieves the opposite – it singles out going bare-faced as an unnatural event worthy of ratification. Or maybe we’re making too much of this? Other individuals see the trend as a celebration of natural beauty while embracing the opportunity to do good. But if there is no link to cancer related organisations or promise of donation, what real good are you achieving?

Cancer AwarenessPersonally, I find this trend confusing – I was nominated and I have participated, but my motivation in doing so was purely to raise awareness and spur others on to donating to a worthy cause. I took the obligatory make-up free selfie, and I included a link to the CHOC donation page and donated some money myself. I’m not telling you this because I feel like I deserve a gold star or special mention – I’m telling you because I feel like if one is going to participate in this, one should do it for the right reasons.

My mum is the most incredible person I know and she has had cancer three times – she is incredibly strong and a daily inspiration for me. If taking a selfie and asking people to donate to a worthy cause is going to inspire others to donate funding to brave people like my mum, then I don’t mind doing it. Yes, I do take umbrage to the idea that women going without make-up is noteworthy and ‘brave’ – I feel like the ideals of beauty that our society places on a pedestal are completely ridiculous if it is considered abnormal for women to be bare-faced. But if people are using this trend as a means to inspire donation, education and awareness, then maybe it’s worth puckering up and happy-snapping away. Just ensure that you do actually include a link to a worthy organisation and please consider donating as well – CHOC and CANSA do exceptional work and are very deserving of our support.


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