The no makeup selfie

I want to briefly offer my thoughts on the latest social media phenomena to hit my Facebook: the no makeup selfie that’s supposedly raising awareness for Breast Cancer.

Now I’m not against the idea. I just don’t really get it. I wouldn’t condemn anyone for taking part because I’m sure girls are getting involved with good intentions. But I can’t help but feel uncomfortable when I see the word selfie in the same sentence as cancer.

The significance of it being a no makeup selfie one would assume lies in the notion of it being a ‘brave’ thing to do. Even as a guy, I can appreciate that girls might not usually feel comfortable enough to publicise such a picture, one where they feel that they might not look at their best. This a great shame, but a reality when we live in a world where even profile pictures are filtered and photoshopped. Okay, so sharing no makeup selfies is a good thing because it promotes naturalness and encourages girls to be more comfortable in their skin. Great.

But this isn’t the reason why girls are taking these pictures. They are being taken in the name of Breast Cancer. This is where I find an issue. How can anyone consider taking a no makeup selfie a ‘brave’ thing to do in juxtaposition with the suffering cancer causes? Maybe I’ve missed the point here, but why else would women choose to support other women in this way? A selfie to me connotes vanity and attention seeking, but is more importantly just a bit of fun. It seems hardly appropriate to associate any of these things with Breast Cancer. Feel free to disagree with me, but I can’t help but feel that the whole thing unintentionally belittles a serious issue.


There is one other aspect of this phenomena that baffles me. With the greatest respect to sufferers and their friends and family, of all the life threatening diseases, Breast Cancer is surely the one we are most aware of. Is there anyone who sees one of these selfies pop up on their Facebook and actually feels more aware of the issue? Offering support to the cause is obviously a positive thing, everyone would agree, to the extent that writing a status declaring such seems unnecessary. Surely what Breast Cancer charities need is monetary funding, not empty words. A no makeup selfie that raises awareness has little impact – should it not be, if anything, a sponsored selfie?


Social media can be a brilliant means of spreading important messages and addressing issues, but I think on this occasion good intentions have been misconstrued. Perhaps no real harm has been done and I hope so. But I also doubt any real good is being achieved either. The no makeup selfie is certainly a better phenomena than the neck-nomination anyway. May social media continue in this promising direction and refine its efforts to bring about positive change.



  1. This make-up free support campaign was actually kickstarted last year, but the idea back then was to get sponsored to do it and to simply make people think about what is really important in life. It happened to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so you would donate to it – raising both awareness and monetary support.

    “The campaign is trying to persuade women of all ages and walks of life to get sponsored to go to work, social activities or even a night out without their make-up on.

    DareToBare runs throughout October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and women can be sponsored to go without make-up for a day, a week or even the whole month.”

    I find it rather interesting that this began as an initiative by a cosmetics company when the subject of what we put on our skin without so much as a second thought is such a contentious issue these days. Of course, it looks like the original idea has been warped into something totally different – such is the way with social media…

  2. I agree that it is a tad pointless if those ladies posting selfies are not also donating to the charity but I think the vast majority are now donating to Cancer Research UK or other cancer charities, so in my opinion, that could never really be deemed pointless. Also, I don’t think it is any more belittling than, for example, Angela Rippon sat in a bath of beans or Jo Brand learning to Tango. People do all manner of silly things to raise money for charity, I don’t understand why this is really any different?

    1. Hey, thanks for taking the time to comment. If people are donating to charity too then that’s awesome. I wrote the post under the impression, based on my Facebook friends anyway, that most weren’t. My issue lies only with them. I’m glad that most people you know have been donating!

      1. To be honest, I think the majority were shamed into donating by the likes of you and i asking “What is the point in this?”.

      2. That’s interesting actually. That’s a good thing, right? I’m pleased at least, because the concept has been a little controversial, that discussions are taking place, like this one, which will do a lot more good than the selfies themselves.

  3. I feel that this is simply following the trend of the ‘like to save’ plephora of photos on Facebook. There is a fine line between raising awareness for genuine good (bringing about an increase in donations) and ‘raising awareness’ to little end. Although these selfies are spurned out of good will I think some of the people taking them have simply joined the trend, and missed the whole purpose of the act: to donate and encourage others to donate. Despite this there are still a number of people donating with their photos, and if this fad is a means of encouraging that then I can’t see any overall harm.

      1. I still agree with your original message, this probably isn’t the best way to spread the message and encourage donation, and really it’s largely equating a subject of serious matter to the self absorbed notion of the selfie. Either way it is still doing some good, and it’ll likely die out soon enough anyway!

      2. Yeah I’m awaiting the next fad I can write a social commentary on 😛 What happened to you blogging? 😉 * Just realised you have posted! Checking out now

      3. Loss of inspiration? 😛 I’ve done three new ones the past couple of months, but none too consistently…

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