#nomakeupselfie 1, Haters 0

Yesterday morning I woke up to a Facebook page scattered with ‘no make up selfies’. In case you’ve missed it, the premise is that a woman takes a selfie without any make up, posts it on social media, nominates other women to do it and donates money to a cancer charity.

Admittedly, some of the earlier ones I saw were people that looked remarkably (suspiciously?) good, and I almost believed the haters hype – the suggestion that this was nothing to do with raising awareness of cancer and the importance of fundraising, or that it had been taken over by people adding pictures of themselves ‘pretending’ to be embarrassed, wanting affirmation of their natural beauty, or just doing it to be part of a trend.

And then my timeline became full of natural faces of women I love, women from school, women I’ve worked with. The majority look a little bashful and many accompany the picture with apologies for their ghastly appearance. For the ones I know well, they weren’t doing this because actually they thought they looked pretty good and wanted lots of comments of ‘OMG, you look so great without all the slap’. Seeing their natural faces made me smile and when so many of them poured in, I felt a sense of sisterhood solidarity. By today, my whole Facebook stream was of bare-faced ladies. Beats pictures of people’s dinner (not guilty) or their kids in fancy dress (most definitely guilty).

One criticism has been ‘Look at all these idiots jumping on the bandwagon, I bet they’re not even donating’. Well some might not be, but with £2m (and counting)* raised in 48 hours, some of them most definitely are. It might feel more worthy to climb a mountain or do a skydive and raise a massive sum, but if you want big numbers and a broader audience, this #nomakeupselfie is bloody marvellous. Frankly, I don’t care how it’s done. I just know we need to keep raising money.

At the heart of all this is a fact – cancer can destroy lives.

I’ve seen people have their world rocked with the news that someone has cancer. I’ve seen friends lose loved ones. I’ve stood in the kitchen laughing with my mum as she told me a story about her childhood, and then watched her crumble, shoulders shaking because she’s crying and she misses her little sister, who died aged 46. I saw my cousins stand up at their mum’s funeral reading a poem they’d written about her, something I will never, ever forget. I have friends who have lost a parent when they were young, who now have children of their own and would give anything to be able to show that parent their grandchild, to ask them questions and be able to relate to them as a fellow mum or dad. I’ve got friends living with the fear that a loved one’s cancer might return, or that they themselves might have inherited this hideous disease.

And I have a husband who was diagnosed with a rare thyroid cancer aged 30. I saw the confusion on his parents face as they had to come to terms with their boy’s diagnosis, something I can only even begin to comprehend now I have children of my own. The bewildered faces of our friends, trying to understand how someone so young and fit and alive could have a deadly disease. I waited in fear as Doug went through aggressive surgery to his throat. I watched him speak a few weeks later at his best friend’s wedding, his voice weak but his mind set absolutely rock solid. I went in to labour the day after he finished 5 weeks of radiotherapy, and I saw him – in pain and exhausted himself – sob huge heaving tears as he held his firstborn for the first time and somewhere in his mind wrestled with the thought of loving something so much when he didn’t know his own future.

If I allow myself to think it, I know without people raising money for research and treatment, and without the huge list of people that have an involvement in diagnosing and treating cancer, my husband would be dying or dead. So don’t tell me that people are raising money for the wrong reasons, or ‘not really’ being charitable. Do we need to look for an angle to moan about something that doesn’t need an explanation? Some people might just want to show off their unblemished skin and naturally thick eyelashes. Some might have missed the point and not actually donated. Good luck to them. But to the thousands of women that have dared to bare (and I know many of them would probably rather not) and have donated money, I think you rock. #sisterhood

Steph x

*On 25th March Cancer Research UK announced they had received £8m to date as a result of the #nomakeupselfie, in 6 days

You can text BEAT to 70099 and donate £3 to Cancer Research UK or text CURE to 70660 to donate £3 to Breast Cancer Campaign, or any other charity that you want to support

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29 thoughts on “#nomakeupselfie 1, Haters 0

  1. Honest Mum says:

    A beautiful post, sorry to hear about your husband and Auntie. I hope he’s OK now-I actually lost my friend to breast cancer on the Saturday soon after all the selfies and did it for her (I and my friends donated of course) and I’m all for anything that gets other donating.

    The feminist in me doesn’t think it’s necessarily brave to not wear make up but this campaign has worked and here’s to anything and everything that can help this epidemic. P.S You are a natural beauty x P.P.S Really wonderful to discover your brilliant blog

    • Steph says:

      I’m so sorry about your friend. I don’t know anyone that hasn’t been affected by cancer and it’s so bloody awful. My take on it was that it had nothing to do with bravery of not wearing make up – I think that was kind of invented by the media to give a different angle. For me the idea was purely a vehicle to raise cash, which it did!
      So pleased you like the blog x

  2. Kriss says:

    This post has stopped me in my tracks. I kept seeing the makeupfree selfies from friends but should have stopped and read why they were doing it. There are currently too many people in my life whether family or friends that are battling against cancer. Anything that helps raise funds for cancer research is brilliant. Very impressive and strong post.

  3. Kathryn says:

    This is brilliant Steph! It totally sorted out my conflicting feelings on the subject. I feel slightly ashamed for not really getting it before x

  4. Amanda says:

    Totally agree with you.
    It was completely harmless and a fantastic way to not only raise awareness but also heaps of money for research, struggling to understand why anyone would have an issue with it.

  5. suzanne3childrenandit says:

    Another fabulous post. Your first paragraph described me, your last one also described me. I was very skeptical at first – didn’t like the fact that people kept ‘forgetting’ to add the donate bit and were just posting a pic of themselves but eventually it cottoned on and i caved, having been scornful of it at the beginning. It has raised a phenomenal amount of money. Amazing!

  6. BAker says:

    What harm can it do? How about the damage it does to women’s self-confidence by suggesting that going makeup-less and letting the world see them looking natural is ‘daring’?

    What about the fact that this campaign excludes men?

    • Dawn says:

      I don’t believe this campaign has damaged women’s self confidence in the slightest, I believe its allowed many of us to make a small, easy step to raise money for a charity we care about and pull together to show support for people affected by this awful disease. I for one am proud of everyone that’s got involved.

  7. lisa gardiner says:

    Another awesome read, you write such honesty from the heart. I think its amazing what good can be done and there’s not many people i know that haven’t been affected in one way or another by the dreaded ‘big C’. I am extremely proud of my little brother who is currently living in Toronto and working in a world leading cancer research lab. There are many good people out there that do many crazy things for charities, big hugs to all xxxxx

  8. Jess Helicopter says:

    I agree completely. Have experienced cancer shiz when my mum was diagnosed with a really aggressive breast cancer just as my nana (her mum) was on the operating table having a hysterectomy for cancer that had returned after 8 years clear. My nana didn’t make it but mum is here 10 years on, thank fook. The year before last my dad’s sister died of cancer and 2 months later a close friend’s daughter, born 2 days after Gus died of it. Cancer chugs and ANYTHING we can do to aid research helps. And my no make up selfie was UUUUGLY. I know this because most, if not all, of my friends got comments about how naturally beautiful they were and mine didn’t get one! Ha! I’m ok with this because I heart make up big time….it’s good to know your weaknesses! 😀

    But seriously tho, this post made me well up. Big cyber kisses! X

  9. The columnist says:

    I’m totally with you and wish you all the very best of luck. I wrote a blog on my reaction to all the negativity around this campaign and wish I’d hit the nail on the head as eloquently as you. Beautifully

  10. Verily Victoria Vocalises says:

    Great post. So pleased to see your husband came through his treatment. My Mum has had breast cancer twice and had a single mastectomy just over two years ago and is still here and going strong. The least I could do was put up a photo! Thank you for linking to PoCoLo x

  11. Hannah says:

    Wow this beats the usual rubbish I come across on FB! The previous installments seemed to have passed me by but I’ll be looking out for the next ones. You write beautifully xx

  12. Naomi says:

    I’m sure not only the toughest to read but it must also have been hardest to write, so well done you for being brave enough to let people see a part of your life that some many people can relate to. Keep up the great writing you’re a natural 🙂

  13. Emma says:

    Thank you Steph. For hitting the nail on the head again. You make me want to donate again, whether or not I’ve bared my ‘it doesn’t make a difference’ no make up face. Love your writing. Xx

  14. Caroline W says:

    You write brilliantly Steph. I can remember something you wrote at primary school being brilliant! Clearly you haven’t lost it. Keep up the good work girlie, I’m an avid fan. Custard creams and Bourbons for two 🙂 x x

  15. Dawn says:

    Can you stop making us all cry!!! Well said though – all the haters can do one. £2m raised for an amazing cause! Loving your work and really proud of everyone that’s got involved in this.

  16. Stephs Two Girls says:

    So right. My feelings exactly. Shame that some wanted to complain – but then you know that saying, ‘you can please some people all of the time….’ etc Well done to everyone who took part I say, and it HAS made a difference. x

  17. Liz says:

    I don’t know what to write other than you’re brilliant Steph I have so much respect for you and Sisterhood x x x x

  18. Peta says:

    Stef, wonderful post that made me cry. So well said and beautifully written. I loathe doing selfies and you will probably never see another one on my timeline, but I was wanted to share photo that would usually never see the light of day for such a worthy cause. I hate my photo being up there, but I hate cancer more

  19. Alicia says:

    Made me cry and smile, again. YOU rock Steph for opening up and installing pride in us when too often we don’t feel it. Xxxx