No-makeup selfies on Facebook won't beat cancer alone

“No-makeup selfies on Facebook won’t beat cancer alone” by Sali Hughes, The Guardian.

About 48 hours ago, a number of self-portraits appeared on my Facebook feed. Each was of a woman ostensibly wearing no makeup, with the hashtag #beatcancer (not breast cancer, not ovarian or prostate or bone or lymph – just “cancer”). Nothing else. Simply a selfie, a slogan and a call to arms, imploring other women to do the same.

I was perplexed as to how a seemingly incongruous gesture could influence the fight against cancer in any way. I checked the Cancer Research UK website, and the charity was apparently uninvolved and at that point seemingly unaware of yet another hollow Facebook meme with as much relevance as “like this post if you believe child abuse / animal cruelty / rape is a bad thing”. As the morning wore on hundreds more makeup-free selfies appeared. One example of such a post: “Here’s my no makeup selfie for cancer! It’s a rare thing to see me without makeup but so important for so many people! #beatcancer.”

Cancer Research UK, realising that something big was taking place, hijacked the meme and began posting details on how to actually do something to help. Hard cash is what cancer research needs. And this Facebook meme only started contributing once it was outed as an empty gesture. I’m glad that something good came out of this, but disappointed that such meaningless social networking campaigns have been vindicated in the process. Surely the floodgates are now wide open for more reductive, sexist, self-congratulatory campaigns for ominous gain.

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