Personally, even though at this point any photograph of a woman with no make-up on any news feed automatically poses the question 'have you donated yet?', initially the images that I saw didn't contain any links to donation sites, or even captions to do with cancer or the Sophie's Choice petition (to lower the age of the smear test) - it felt like another social media trend, a Neknomination ('you have 24 hours!') all loosely based on the theme that 'it's for cancer.' It bothered me because although all social-networking is ultimately a vehicle for vanity and self-promotion, it felt like most of the images being posted were much more about getting a 'wow, that's seriously you without any makeup on?!' rather than a 'that was brave, this gives a real sense of unity and encourages me to donate.' This was simply because they weren't captioned, they didn't include any information that raised awareness, and I thought that they were so far removed from actual charities that they wouldn't benefit them in any way. Sans-donation, these photos seemed like a way to provide self-gratification without actually doing anything good at all, or at least that's how it seemed.
However, following a rather fast backlash people began including these vital links and now any photos of girls going au naturel (or indeed of guys with makeup, which I for one would like to see more of) come with automatic subtext telling you that this person has donated, and that's really important. The movement has sparked conversations about breast cancer and caused a huge spike in donations which is just brilliant. Ultimately this has been a successful social media campaign because loved or loathed it's being talked about and it's working because donations are rising.
I still understand completely that nobody should feel compelled to join in, and that some donate to charity regularly anyway, whilst others would prefer to volunteer or be sponsored to take part in a challenge or simply just donate rather than take a selfie which ultimately has nothing to do with cancer (although these bare-faced photos - though their subject is still technically unrelated because do people with cancer stop wearing makeup?! - have become an unlikely symbol of support.) I also feel I have to rescind my initial reservations about these selfies being to do with vanity - because I'm now posting one myself and it's not something I feel confident about in the slightest.
Initially I liked the way that this trend challenged beauty norms, because I got to see how naturally beautiful all the women on my news feed are without makeup. A lot of people have commented that people look better without it. For me this is a sensitive subject - sometimes I wish I'd never started wearing makeup, just because I can't stand to be without it (I realise that's a silly thing to say as somebody who blogs about beauty products) but it's something I'm so dependent on and that makes me feel bizarrely dishonest. It's not just about personal expression, which is why I bother with the fancy bits - the winged liner, the red lipstick - for me it first and foremost provides a sense of camouflage.
When I first was nominated for a no-makeup selfie, my initial thought was that all my photo was going to raise awareness of was a lifetime of skin problems and what happens when you draw the short straw in the genetic lottery. Without it I notice all the things that ordinarily I try and hide: the pale brows and lashes from fair colouring, and more than anything, marks from years of fighting with my own skin. I'm so used to winged eyeliner and mascara that my eyes are almost unfamiliar without it. I look at the offensive, meant-to-be-funny memes that people are uploading on Facebook and relate them to myself, because I have become accustomed to hiding everything I don't like to the best of my ability. But, just like the Dermablend campaign, people are being brave and showing their true selves, and although I've not seen any one girl on my news feed who I feel has anything to hide, anything not to love, I still wanted to put my own picture out there just to show that I can, that I'm trying to overcome something that has impacted my life for so long, and to show some unity in a cause that is actually doing amazingly well.
If you are in a position where you can donate, it'd be great to contribute to the cause. You can donate £3 to breast cancer research by texting 'CURE' to 70660. Alternatively, you could donate to a cancer that has affected you or your family, or sponsor somebody like I did. Cancer affects every one in three people, and if you don't know anybody who's been affected then you are both incredibly lucky and in a very rare position. Finally, please sign the Sophie's Choice petition - it's so important to get the age of the smear test lowered and it takes all of 30 seconds to add your name to the list.
Sorry, a bit of a long post and a rather serious one at that, but some causes are just too important not to get behind. Let me know if you've donated, and what are your opinions on the selfie campaign?