‘The unique campaign also took a universal, gender non-distinct problem and turned it into a “women’s problem”.’ Photograph: Wavebreak Media Ltd/Alamy
About 48 hours ago, a number of self-portraits appeared on my Facebook feed. Each was of a lady ostensibly sporting no makeup, with the hashtag #beatcancer (not breast cancer, not ovarian or prostate or bone or lymph – just “cancer”). Nothing at all else. Merely a selfie, a slogan and a call to arms, imploring other girls to do the same.
I was perplexed as to how a seemingly incongruous gesture could influence the fight towards cancer in any way. I checked the Cancer Analysis Uk web site, and the charity was apparently uninvolved and at that stage seemingly unaware of however another hollow Facebook meme with as considerably relevance as “like this publish if you think youngster abuse / animal cruelty / rape is a poor thing”. As the morning wore on hundreds a lot more makeup-totally free selfies appeared. One instance of this kind of a post: “Here’s my no makeup selfie for cancer! It is a uncommon factor to see me without makeup but so essential for so many individuals! #beatcancer.”
As social media feeds filled up with these posts, I grew to become more and more irritated, but a swift search showed I was far from alone. Females (and males) had begun posting screengrabs of their donations to Cancer Study, minus the pictures that had kickstarted the viral fundraising, typically with disparaging remarks about the preliminary drive. Cancer Research United kingdom, realising that something massive was taking location, hijacked the meme and began posting details on how to really do some thing to assist.
Right now the charity announced it has had donations of much more than £2m in 48 hrs and the “makeup-free of charge selfie” brigade have claimed a enormous victory in the fight towards cancer. Even though it arguably is – a fortune has been raised that may not otherwise have been – did the outcome justify the signifies?
Like a lot of other folks, I had many problems with the natural campaign. First of all, as with a great deal of social networking campaigns, it asked for no helpful contribution, no meaningful action, just a kind of lazy, armchair reaction that tends to make us really feel good about ourselves. It implied that the most useful way a female (there was no suggestion that males must do anything at all at all) could contribute to the solving of a large difficulty, was to consider off their makeup and have their look scrutinised en masse, as even though this was some exceptionally meaningful sacrifice. The very same was asked of women in the course of Youngsters In Need’s BearFaced campaign.
Most women I know, myself integrated, are noticed without makeup an awful whole lot. To imply mascara and lipstick are like oxygen to ladies, as although anybody who wears makeup has no sense of point of view nor awareness as to what else may be going on in the planet, nor any capability for charity, is reductive, patronising and just plain stupid.
The unique campaign also took a universal, gender non-distinct concern and turned it into a “women’s situation” by generating it all about surface, vanity and emotion rather than about useful, useful action. No require to bake cakes for Macmillan, no use getting into a marathon or simply setting up a direct debit (and yes, like many women, I have accomplished all 3) – just present your close friends how excellent your skin looks without foundation. Only when these who disagreed with it showed their dissent by donating income, did it have any good final result.
There is, of course, one more question about the vanity of people taking portion. It was hours ahead of the selfie mob questioned what they had truly taken component in past a mass physical exercise in narcissism greeted by adoring comments saying “you even now seem scorching hun”. Whilst I’m in no place to understand the genuine motives of 1000′s of ladies (Facebook memes do have a habit of indirectly bullying people into appearing worthy), but the impact of this kind of mass and glib support was not greeted with enthusiasm by all people a lot more immediately affected by cancer. 1 buddy, in recovery from bone cancer, posted sarcastically: “Wow, you guys appear just as sh*t as I did when I had cancer! It really is the Same! #sobrave”. Yet another pointed out that makeup and the ability to make herself “search effectively” was hugely important to her even though she was undergoing chemotherapy.
I am glad that some thing great came out of this, but disappointed that this kind of meaningless social networking campaigns have been vindicated in the method. Certainly the floodgates are now broad open for a lot more reductive, sexist, self-congratulatory campaigns for ominous gain.