No makeup selfies are narcissism dressed up

Sarah OConnor
April 3, 2014
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

In recent weeks my Facebook Newsfeed has been flooded with #nocamerafilter #naturalbeauty #nomakeup selfies. Hundreds of bare-faced people smiling, and tagging he, she, and so and so they haven’t spoken to since kindergarten.

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I don’t care for Facebook trends. I’m rarely nominated and would ignore the nomination if it happened. Still, if people wanted to go out of their comfort zone and display their naked face to the world, go ahead. Make-up, no make-up, I really don’t care. Whatever makes a person happy.

It wasn’t until one of my Facebook friends took a picture of her chest that I had any idea that this craze was for cancer.

I’ll ask the obvious question: How is this helping cancer?

I don’t blame the participants for thinking they are doing something good. It’s like liking that page for Kony 2012 to save the Invisible Children. People hear about something bad or sad and feel obligated to help. It’s too bad that help seems to be a simple click; a simple bare-faced smile that they think makes all the difference. The world will be a better place and cancer will be known (because there obviously is no awareness) and cured because of your naked smiling face.

I understand why the participants think they are helping. Cancer patients often feel embarrassed and self-conscious over their appearance because of the exhausting effects that chemo and radiation. The no make-up selfie then inspires people to feel like a cancer patient, to show their unpampered face and feel the same embarrassment without their make-up to protect them.

In theory it’s a good idea, but in reality it’s selfish. When the no make-up selfie craze began in the U.K. people were hashtagging and smiling their tired face-off, but most people were also donating. In 48 hours the #NoMakeupSelfie campaign earned more than $5 million Canadian in donations to Cancer Research U.K.

Of my 245 friends on Facebook only two have done anything with the selfie that promotes cancer awareness. My mentioned friend above also took a picture of her throat, highlighting the different types of cancers there are to bring awareness. My other friend actually donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Instead of posting no make-up selfies people can do so much more to help spread cancer awareness. People can donate to the various cancer charities that exist, people can volunteer at Jurivinski, people can even knit squares for blankets for cancer patients!

There are so many productive things people can do to actually make a difference.
My mom was recently diagnosed with breast cancer for the third time, and that might allow you to read this article as a personal complaint on a fad. But you don’t need a mother who has fought cancer multiple times to consciously know that there are better ways to advocate for cancer awareness and donations then posting a selfie.
In the meantime I will be helping my mother cook and clean around the house. I will be going with her to appointments and in my spare time I’ll knit some squares for blankets for Jurivinski.

I want to actively help, and I hope you’ll join me.


  • Sarah OConnor

    Tobi Abdul is the Assistant Lifestyle Editor. She pretty much talks entirely in pop culture references or Drake lyrics. When she's not watching TV you can find her -- k, let's face it she's always watching TV.

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