A post about #NoMakeUpSelfie and raising awareness. Generally

Stadler and Waldorf

Over the past few days I’ve seen some that people have been posting selfies of… erm, themselves obviously, without makeup, to raise awareness of cancer, and maybe donate some money along the way.

This is good right? Any charity longs to keep its cause and message in the public eye, in whatever reasonable way it can, and hopes to raise a few quid along the way if it can.

The fact that Cancer Research UK, for example, didn’t know about this until it was happening shows something really key. Someone, somewhere, is keen to use social media to support the work of cancer charities to raise awareness of issues surrounding cancer, and increased awareness means that cancer charities can campaign for increased funding in cancer research,  provide support for sufferers and their families nn whatever way possible, pressure government for increased funding or the expansion of units which can help detect cancer earlier,  and help increase cancer sufferers chances of survival.

It’s also, unexpectedly, raised over a million quid.


For every picture of someone without make up I’ve seen on Twitter with the hashtag #NoMakeUpSelfie #CancerAwareness, I’ve also seen an oblique criticism, ranging from people saying ‘Why don’t you do something useful like donate some money’ ‘Try doing a sponsored swim/marathon [insert gruelling event of your choice] and raise money instead of posting a selfie’ even down to some which imply that people are stupid and that the cosmetic industry have hoodwinked people into thinking that they’re naked without makeup.

Gosh, there are an awful lot of Statler and Waldorfs out there.

I think we’re all in agreement that people getting behind ANY campaign which shows the world that we want to rid the world of this terrible disease is a good thing.

If you think it’s pointless and are keen to criticise then you’re damning people for raising awareness, on a grand scale, and criticising something valuable which would cost a cancer charity thousands of pounds to bring to fruition.

It costs charities a lot of time and money to bring awareness campaigns  into the public eye. People have to work on hows and wheres, and usually there’s some frazzled marketing/PR or campaigns manager somewhere who’s worked their bahookie off for months hoping to get a message out there. The fact that this has, so it seems, spontaneously taken off, without the knowledge or funding of the major cancer charities is amazing and should be praised and supported.

So, if you want to post of picture of yourself without any make up on, then go for it. Haterz gonna hate right? And if you want to donate some dosh while doing so, then text BEAT to 70099 to donate £3. But to criticise others for joining in an awareness campaign which HAS raised money is not just mean-spirited, but easily one of the most negative things I’ve seen on social media since I joined.

I know a lot of people out there in Socialmedialand think of themselves as the smartest person in the room. I know this from the comments, debates and criticisms that I’ve had to wade through while campaigning for Amazon to remove To Train Up A Child from sale. Everyone has an opinion. That’s good. Well done. And while opinions may differ on some things, I think we’re all in agreement that cancer is shit.

So, surely, anything that raises awareness that we think cancer IS shit and raises some money along the way is worth commendation, not criticism?

Thanks for reading.

Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment in my comments portal. Did you join in? Are you one of the critics? What are your views? All opinions and comments are welcome. Except for the ludicrous ones.


30 responses to “A post about #NoMakeUpSelfie and raising awareness. Generally

  1. My facebook was had a few people posting pictures with captions like ‘My cancer pic.’ Although they are joining in for the right reasons (probably) I think they could have handled it a little more delicately and posted a blurb about why it was important & how you could donate.
    On the other hand I had some very lovely ones who posted a selfie then went on to say however many ‘likes’ the picture got they would donate that amount to charity while giving all the details for people to do their own donations. At the end of the day posting a screenie of donation confirmation a pound per ‘like’ – I thought that was a lovely twist to it.
    Either way, giving any charity so much exposure so quickly WITH the added benefit of actually getting donations can’t be bad.

  2. I posted my selfie and as of yet haven’t donated…simply because it is the day before payday and I don’t have 3p let alone £3. However I have sorted out a big bag of clothes to donate to cancer research which I was bout to put on eBay, and have shared a picture of how to check boobs!! Any awareness is good. If it encourages one person to check themselves and saves a life then it has done the job!

  3. Hell yeah! I was nominated to take a selfie, I donated instead BUT posted a selfie on my blog and wrote about my own cancer scare and signed up for race for life. I also pointed out that wilts I didn’t post a selfie on social media, I had no issues with it. It’s clearly worked, I e just read that they received a million pounds in donations since it stared. How awesome is that!

  4. I totally agree! I posted a tweet in a similar vein – but only 140 characters long (obvs) yesterday. I have done the ‘selfie’ – the first I have ever done by the way – AND donated. We should never forget and anything that reminds us in whatever way should not be criticised. There are a million things going on in the world that are worth criticising – this isn’t one of them!!!

    • Thanks for your comment, and for reading. I wonder if some of the criticisms stem from people not quite understanding why people were doing it, which is all explained brilliantly in a comment by ‘Emma’, or something to do with charity fatigue, or the fact that some see it as a bit vain. I dunno.
      All I know is somehow this spontaneous ‘thing’ raised a million quid, and that’s something to go WOOP WOOP about. 🙂

  5. From what I could see, the reason the campaign took off with people donating and sharing pictures of “what to look for” was because the original “post a no-make up selfie for awareness” thing was hijacked by people who thought “Hang on, let’s ACTUALLY raise awareness by posting useful links, donating money and having a bit of a grump about the original campaign to generate a bit of a debate about it all”. And it worked. So, arguably, the original no make up selfie campaign did help, but only because it disgruntled enough people who wanted to do something about it.

    As an aside, the people I saw who were most offended by it were people who had been personally affected by it, either by suffering from cancer themselves or having to witness a loved one struggling. So I totally respect their opinions on it.

    • Thanks for your comment.
      I’ve not seen comments from people offended because they’ve known someone who has suffered, so that’s interesting. I still see it as something positive as it’s raised something like a million quid which is surely a good thing.

  6. Here, here, Well said!! So pleased you did this post !(1) Cancer is shit & (2) any money & awareness the charity gets is surely a positive. As ye olde phrase goes….any publicity is good publicity. People across the land are debating this & it’s free publicity the charity, right? I think people take things all too seriously, c’mon guys, it was just a picture & raised a ton of money….. (of corse, You put it a lot more eloquently than this!) Tally ho!

    • Tally ho indeed! I’m still seeing some very negative comments on Twitter but also some very positive ones here, which is good. I think.

      Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  7. I’m one of the moaners. I moaned about the pointless photos. By pointless I meant the ones where people where just posting a photo of their best pout saying selfie. They weren’t mentioning the cause what so ever and it made me mad. Granted I was hormonal at the time and it had hit a raw nerve and I probably didn’t put it quite as well as I could have done. I also had photos in my news feed of people claiming to be brave because they were going barefaced yet they clearly had mascara and lipgloss on and used a filter. Fighting cancer is brave. Living without loved ones who lost their fight is brave. Taking a photo of yourself with ‘no’ make up on is not brave. I totally agree that mentioning the cause is worthwhile and it’s actually amazing to see how much this has now evolved over the last few days and raised so much money. Maybe some of the moaners actually encouraged people to donate by suggesting that a photo won’t help save lives but being a bit more proactive will. It has been fab to see all the photos that people have posted confirming their donations. I guess in my bumbling way I was actually moaning more about those that were jumping on the band wagon and not mentioning the cause and the whole point of their photo.

  8. I equally think that while raising awareness of cancer is good,charities have a duty to do it responsibly. In particular I’m talking about CoppaFeell!, the breast cancer awareness charity, teaming up with page 3 in The Sun. I’m sure that the charity has raised money as a result of this (which is good) but it has also thrown women under the bus in terms of their continued sexualisation in mainstream media (which is bad). In this case I think the charity is bang out of order.

    • That’s a confusing one. I totally get what you’re saying. That charity could raise a lot of money by teaming up with The Sun = good thing. But it continues something which isn’t, namely what you mention above = bad thing. In a way, it also allows The Sun to continue what it does re: Page 3 etc, because they can ally themselves with this charity thus gaining a Get Out of Jail Free card for any Stop Page 3 arguments.

      Thanks for your comment. I didn’t know this.

      • There has been a lot of outrage over page 3 teaming up with CoppaFeel!, so much so that the No More Page Three campaign has gained an extra 50,000 signatories appealing for an end to the newspaper’s nudity. It’s been very clumsily done, with Check ‘Em Tuesdays involving nubile models.groping their boobs in the shower etc while pouting and laughing. People with experience of breast cancer have rightly taken offence but The Sun says it’s supporting women. The reality is that it’s a last ditch attempt to protect page three from increasing opposition.

        God, I am banging on now. I just wanted to say that charities need to be socially responsible when they try to raise money and I also think that they should try to not wear out their welcome. Too many of these Facebook campaigns and the public will start switching off, I reckon, doing the awareness and fundraising no favours in the long haul.

  9. Yep , I joined in , my pic also had a breast examination pic & a message asking people to donate as I had . Yes some people did a pic without donating but even ifa few of the people posting selfies donate then that’s got to be a good thing

    • I think it’s interesting as it somehow worked as an idea, out of nothing really. There are some really interesting comments here about what people think, why they were against it/are for it, but for it to raise so much money so quickly is something pretty amazing.

      Thanks for your comment.

  10. I don’t mind any of the selfies, even the slightly arty ones from people using filters. And if not everyone donates money then that’s their business, it’s a free world (sort of). I have a close family member battling a brain tumour, and have lost several loved ones to cancer – any and all raising of awareness is fine by me. And sure it’s not brave to bare your make-up less face in the same way that facing a killer disease is, but for some women I know it is probably the bravest thing they’ve yet done so I feel it is harsh to ridicule them when they are clearly way put of their comfort zone. Keep your hate for homophobia or cancer or racism.

  11. As far as I’m concerned anything that gets people donating to Cancer Research UK is a good thing. Brilliant post xx

  12. I like your points. But for me – my timeline was full of selfies and ‘my cancer selfie I tag..’ And that was it. No mention of why or what for and that’s what upset me.

    I’ve lost so many to cancer. I’ve watched child go from bright and funny to empty and in pain. Less than a year ago I lost two family members to cancer.

    I posted a picture of the cancer research logo and a link. I didn’t say I hated the selfies I just said ‘this is my voice sbs my choice is to post this instead.

    Cancer is raw for me. It hurts. There’s so much more I want to say but I won’t.

    It’s great that people are finally donating and it’s turned into something good.

    • Thanks for your comment, and thanks for reading.

      I guess what has annoyed some people, and is that this ‘trend’ isn’t seen as fitting or respectful and maybe even vain. I guess it’s worked in getting the press talking about it, us talking about it, and has raised some money which will go to help some people.

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

  13. I read through some of the comments and I felt so sad that people can be so hateful. Comments like”Why don’t you just donate and stop making idiots of yourselves”. They’re missing the point.
    Raising money (and awareness) for a charity is very often about making an idiot of yourself or doing something that takes you out of your comfort zone. How do these people feel about Comic Relief? Do they sit there and say the same thing?
    Yes, some women had obviously got make up on but as long as they donated their £3 and maybe inspired someone to do the same – who cares? The bigger picture is Breast Cancer Awareness.
    Cancer is a bastard of a disease but we can’t beat it without the money to do the research.
    And you can’t argue with over a million pounds…

  14. Spencer, I must commend you on being an honest and intelligent man who has his finger (not there!) but on the pulse of what is going on with charity and social media. You are a wealth of knowledge and pertinent information to better our society. I for one, am extremely grateful you persist in your causes and take what you say every seriously.

  15. I moaned about them after seeing lots of people posting a selfie with just a vague mention of raising awareness but with no mention of a charity or donation. I then saw lots of people say “If you’re going to post a selfie, include a donation link/text number” and I saw more people doing that very thing. So in my mind, it changed from being an irritating vanity meme (masquerading as goodwill) to something valuable and powerful.

  16. Honestly, this has been much better than the handbag and bra colour bullshit which were supposed to be for cancer awareness, but actually did nothing at all to raise awareness of anything. Why? Because for the first time someone actually mentioned cancer. In the post. Not some message sent “only to the women on your friends list” to “confuse the boys”.

    However, I was one of the people that posted a picture and immediately encouraged people to donate to cancer charities, posted details on how to donate and also details of how to check your breasts.

    I have seen far too many vacuous pictures saying “here’s my pic I nominate…” without providing any useful information whatsoever about cancer and that makes me fucking angry! I have lost too many people to this disease to not take it seriously and I think a lot of people are posting these pictures, doing nothing else, and giving themselves a pat on the back like they’ve actually done something tangible to help raise awareness and funds when they haven’t.

    I think we are all aware of cancer. You would have to be living in a cave to have not been touched by it. What people don’t seem to be aware of is what to check for, symptoms of the disease, when to see a doctor etc. I would have loved to have seen every person post a symptom or thing to check for along with their photo. That would have been as worthwhile as encouraging donations.

    Sorry, that got long and a bit ranty.

    • That’s fine. Long and ranty is good.

      Yes, cancer is one of those subjects that doesn’t go away, as you point out, everyone is aware of it, but I recently read something that said that charities suffer from low or stagnant growth rates compared with for profit organisations because they don’t operate the same marketing ideas as for profit organisations, perhaps because ‘commercially successful’ could be demeaning to the cause. This selfie craze is very of the moment, and while some haven’t donated, and some have, it’s a good thing in my eyes. A something good which came out of a something daft. Anyone who has posted a photo, in a way, has contributed to the media discussion about it, and so this keeps the names of cancer charities in the news. And that would cost a lot of money for a charity to action themselves.

      Thanks for your comment.

  17. Welk said as ever Spencer. I posted mine and donated. It’s very personal to me as I lost my dad and many relatives and friends to cancer…i attended approx 20 funerals in last 6yrs, 16 were due to cancer and I went to many more before that. I have many friends who have survived and a few who are currently fighting. Many people on my FB page who posted, including me, support cancer charities(and others) either financially or through time and energy to raise funds. The main point of the selfies was to raise awareness i.e get people talking and thats what they did, the donations have been a great big million pound bonus. Its no-one’s business whether people donate or not and had people started posting about what they donate instead of posting pics then Im sure the haters wouldve complained about how crass that was. I for one have loved seeing the lovely pics and all looked better and younger than they do with lots of make up. It made a change from pics of peoples’ dinner and my daughter and stepson ;0)
    If it makes people smile, gives a feeling of being part of something and more importantly encourages females and males to check themselves then there is nothing bad about that…..its surely better than the random words about bags, colours and the pics saying someone has overstocked on ipads. Who knows maybe the publicity and likes will eventually persuade Bill Gates to give that mythical money away…….to cancer research.

  18. And just as an update a few men I know have posted selfies WITH make up on… including my 10 and 8 year old nephews. Some have donated to Cancer Research some to Prostate Cancer Charities… so as far as I can see it is all good. I lost my husband, my grandmother, my mother and father to this dreadful disease. I have seen friends battle and survive, others who didn’t – so anything that helps to raise awareness and raise funds has to be good. Nay sayers will always find something to complain about and you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Oh… and I did one – I don’t post photos of myself (see my avatar) – ever – even with filters and make up – so for me it was a big personal effort too!!!!

    Great blog by the way and glad you are getting lots of feedback – keep doing the great job you do x

  19. I heard that donations hit £2 mill now? I did one, looked rough as hell but it prompted me to actually enter the ‘muddy’ race for life (basically a 5K run with obstacles and mud, complete madness basically) which I’d been pondering and not got round to. So CRUK got £14.99 out of me for a very worthy cause and hopefully I will raise much more.

  20. I personally don’t see the problem with it and agree with your points. A lot of money has been raised, and everyone’s talking about it. What’s not to love? But I haven’t been personally affected by cancer so perhaps I’m being insensitive. Great post.

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