Another day, another reason for the internet to get on its high horse about some shit or other. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE getting on my high horse. It’s probably my favourite place to be, waxing lyrical about the injustices and stupidities of the world. (If you’d like a full testimonial please refer to my boyfriend or housemate).
So when I saw increasing numbers of no make up selfies being prefaced with ‘I know this campaign is somewhat problematic but…’ or ‘not sure I agree with everything this campaign is doing but’ I got excited. Are the teenage girls suggesting we take naked vag pics, too? Or are we captioning these photos with ‘bitchez against breast cancer’? But, to the great disappointment of my controversy loving side, I found absolutely nothing harmful, wrong, or disagreeable when looking into this campaign. Lemme break it down for y’all:
Criticism: Taking a photo without make up on your face is not comparable to the horrors of cancer.
No fucking shit, right? Not much is. But just because many of us, luckily, haven’t been there, surely that doesn’t mean we can’t do our bit to support it? Everyone knows you can’t sell something without a hook. For charities, its even harder, because what their selling is the health and happiness of others and as a hideously selfish species that’s pretty hard for them to make us excited about.
So, most charity campaigns add a little jazz, a little fun, to encourage raising money. Running 5k isn’t as bad as cancer. But for many, (including myself),it is very hard. It is a commitment, a small sacrifice, for which you hope those around you will donate to a cause that is close to your heart. A sponsored silence is, similarly; hardly as challenging as life threatening illness. But I don’t see anyone running around primary schools, ripping pads of paper that say ‘Jenny’s being quiet for a good cause’ from 8 year olds’ hands, screaming THAT’S NOT AS BAD AS CANCER!! In their faces. No.
So of course, taking a photo without make up on isn’t as bad as cancer. But its not particularly easy for others, which leads me onto my next point.
Criticism: It’s not healthy for girls to think that its brave to not wear make up.
Once again, in an ideal world, of course not. But lets face the facts: most women wear make up. Interviewees get told to wear it to increase employability. Tweenage girls spend their pocket money on it. Every female (and male) celebrity that ever existed, ever, (probably) wears it. So make up is relevant to every girl’s life, regardless of whether she wears none, a little, or a shit ton. And yes, i’ts not healthy to make going bare faced ‘other’ nor is it good to make girls that don’t wear make up feel different.
But, for the first time ever, I’ve seen a high percentage of girls on my newsfeed without make up. Some look the same, some look different, and some look absolutely bloody marvellous. But if this has normalised, in a tiny, tiny way, the idea of girls not wearing make up, then that’s something. If one teenage boy, who has never come closer to being with a girl than hes bi weekly visit to pornhub.com and the girls who sit on the otherside of his classroom, with a full face of slap on, sees a newsfeed full of girls without foundation, fake eyelashes, red lipstick, then maybe he’ll be one step closer to understanding that girls don’t always look bloody fantastic. And if the underconfident girl who can’t work out how the ‘cool’ girls look so good everyday, sees them unmasked, maybe she’ll feel like she’s not so different afterall. Small victories, of course. But victories none the less.
And what if that’s not what it does? What if girls are pretending that they’re natural when actually they’ve got half an inch of primer on? Well so bloody what? Girls are going to take selfies day in, day out ( every second, 4.5 million people take a selfie, or some shit). Girls will plaster pictures of them looking ‘crap’ or ‘natural’ on Facebook 24/7. So why can’t that force of vanity, force of self love, be turned into something selfless, too? Can the two not happen simultaneously?
Criticism: People have missed the point of the campaign and have made it about themselves, taking selfies but not even bothering to donate.
Right, okay. Not ideal, I suppose, but not exactly detrimental. Its not like the campaign has been hijacked and warped into ‘take a selfie with a fag’ campaign or ‘take a selfie then lobby the government to privatise health care’. Like I say, if a girl wants to take a selfie, she’s going to do so regardless. Even if she doesn’t donate to charity, the essence of the campaign may still survive. Even if it is picked up by someone incensed by her omission of charity, who then posts a righteous status accompanied by a screen shot of a donation, then that selfish-selfie girl has still managed to pass on the campaign.
As hard as that righteous person may find it to believe, they’ve taken their cue from the selfish-selfie girl, and so in essence, been nominated by her. Regardless of how ‘legit’ you are in your support of Cancer Research, and how well you justify why you’re supporting the campaign/why you’re not supporting the campaign but donating anyway/posting a picture of something other than your naked face/you vow to donate to a different charity that hasn’t got as much coverage – you’ve still done something good as a result of this campaign. I see no negative repercussions of someone missing the point.
Criticism: (The most flimsy of all, IMO) This is just a craze that will blow over as quickly as all the other nominations, and the charities will still need money.
Yes, well, charities always need money. This campaign will most probably not last very long, as is the nature of the internet viral. But for a campaign that Cancer Research didn’t even start, its been a pretty good success. Maybe they can revive it annually? If not, they’re 2 million pounds up, and that’s pretty impressive alone, I’d say. Especially as this campaign has managed to reach a demographic that is not in a position, or state of mind to donate to charity. These are the people that street fundraisers can’t even approach (they usually require you to be 18+) or can’t capture the imaginations or wallets of. If charity has been able to manipulate social media, jump on the back of peer pressure, capitalise off sheep following the crowd, then, marvelous. But the beauty of it is that this isn’t a forced, desperate marketing campaign. This was completely organic – a complete stroke of luck that combined our obsession with selfies, social media nomination and small acts of goodness.
My personal favourite thing regarding this campaign is that it appears that charity has gained some street cred. If we’re being really honest with ourselves, never before has donating been as ‘cool’. We might donate to our friends’ just giving pages; buy the odd raffle ticket, ring in for comic relief. But this is the first time that charity has really come to the fore of social media without grudging £5 quid donations for a skydive out of guilt. If this becomes the norm, especially in a time where we’re all strapped for cash – if people can donate the odd £3 here and there – well then, then I’d say this campaign has been a pretty good success. I suppose it doesn’t matter whether you’re put out by this campaign or not, because the more you talk about it, the more chance it has to grow. But for the sake of charity, lets be nice, yeah?