Over the past two days there has been a small revolution by women on social media. It comes in the form of the No Make Up Selfie, to raise awareness for cancer, and the aim is to put up a picture sans war paint, and nominate a friend or friends to do the same. At the same time, using your mobile phone, you donate the small sum of £3 by simply texting BEAT to 70099. A lovely idea – some didn’t get it, what did the no make up thing have to do with cancer? It would be my idea of absolute hell – I wake up in the morning with bedhead and don’t go anywhere without some tinted moisturizer and mascara. Indeed, that was my reaction initially, until I had a good think about it.
You see, the reality is that cancer is a hidden disease, often coming to the fore unexpectedly, and often with devastating results. There is something very tangible in the act of stripping away the outer layer that you portray to the world, and baring your face, warts and all, which makes the blasé social media viewer stop and take a second look. It makes a statement.
In a world dominated by glamorous women on our TV screens and in the movies, it is a sad fact that most of us know someone with cancer, and perhaps these selfies reflect that. On my Facebook page alone I have seen selfies of women ranging from 14 to the late 60’s. And there is an interesting side effect. You see your friends, in all their vulnerability, in a different light. Yes, you see their blemishes, you see their wrinkles, you see their worry lines. But you also see, in that self conscious act, how beautiful they really are.
Perhaps we are not as clothes and possessions obsessed as all the magazines would have us believe. Perhaps at the root of these selfies there is a realization that no matter what the outward appearance, we are all women, and all at risk from the dreaded C word.
The campaign has raised over £1 million pounds in two days and rising. What is even more amazing is that CancerResearch UK was caught totally on the hop. They knew nothing about it, and wondered why the donations were suddenly pouring in. And they embraced it. And women embraced it.
One day, the word Cancer will not be synonymous with fear. But until that day, there will always be fresh faced warriors ready to battle it.
And so, here’s my No MakeUp selfie…
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