Louise Wilson

If you’re female, on Facebook or Twitter, and not a total hermit, chances are you’ve been nominated in the past month to pose for a ‘no makeup selfie’ in order to raise awareness for Cancer Research UK. If you’re male, you may have even been asked to do the ‘sock my cock’ photo – though these were less prolific. The good news is that these selfies helped to raise over £2 million. The bad news is that this is just a phase of one-off donations, already faded in the fast pace of the social network continuum.

Now don’t get me wrong – £2 million is a fantastic amount going to a great cause. I’m not denying that. But my problem with the no makeup selfie is the fact that those taking them are only donating as part of self-indulgent exhibitionism. And, on top of that, they are likely to have donated only a mere £3 to the cause via text. Whilst together this equated to a fairly substantial amount, that £2 million is a one-off payment when research is still ongoing and regular donations would be far more useful.

And for all the selfies I’ve seen, I can bet that not everyone even donated the small £3. It took a couple of days on my Facebook feed for people to click, realising that a picture of themselves ‘baring all’ would do little to really help Cancer Research and for donation texts to actually be sent. For many, it was just a case of ‘this is a nice thing to do, and it makes me look like I really care’, without actually having to part with any cash.

In the essence of full disclosure, I must admit to taking part in the trend. But before you think I’m full of hot air and I’m undermining my own argument, let me point out that my no makeup selfie had a slight difference. Instead of being completely bare-faced, I scrawled the words #WezNevis across my forehead and attached a link to my own JustGiving page. I’m climbing Ben Nevis at midnight this summer, with all donations going to Macmillan Cancer Support. In the few days following my post, and with the help of several friends acting similarly, my JustGiving total leapt up by £319, passing my £1000 target mark. And believe me, my fundraising ambitions are not going to stop there.

My point is that if you’re really dedicated to beating cancer and supporting cancer patients, don’t just pose at the perfect angle, in the perfect light, with the perfect hair, and send a £3 text off before applauding yourself for a job well done. Do something more. Continue to raise funds for charities that really matter. Host a bake sale, climb a mountain, swim the English fucking Channel. Don’t sit on your ass in front of a computer screen, waiting for the congratulatory comments to wash over you.

If every person who posted a no makeup selfie actually held some kind of event, think of the excess in donations. That £3 could have been turned into £300 – and the £2 million into £200 million. Now that would be a truly astonishing sum.

To repeat a well-known statistic, one in three of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime. The odds of beating cancer have improved exponentially in the past two decades, but sadly people are still dying of cancer every day. We haven’t beaten it yet. But we are nearing a cure, and for that to happen continued efforts need to be made by the charities, the medical experts and us.

Cancer charities are incredibly close to my heart and I’d still like to thank everyone who did part with the £3 for their selfie. On a student budget, I understand that £3 can be the difference between eating an evening meal or not. I’m not claiming that no makeup selfies were a bad thing, considering the amount they did raise. I’m just saying that more could, and should, be done.

As for the ‘sock my cock’ photographs… Well, those were just plain weird.


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