Why I'm Proud to have taken a #nomakeupselfie

Wednesday, March 26

So yes I was one of the 'sheep' that took a no make up selfie this week, and donated £3 in 2 seconds on my phone by sending a text.

And I am so pleased that I did.

Because love it or loathe it, this 'armchair' approach has helped Cancer Research UK alone to raise £8 million from the trend that started on Facebook recently.  

In the past two days I have seen a number of articles being shared and written by people about how much this movement has disgusted them.  The points that they raise are valid, and I completely respect that everyone has their own opinion on this.  

But today I wanted to share some of my own.

Now I have never had to have chemotherapy, thankfully, and so I've never experienced losing my hair or being made terribly ill by a treatment regime.  

But I have had melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, three times.  

I have two big scars on my left leg, a gigantic z shaped scar on my right shoulder, and my arm swells and becomes painful far more frequently than I like to admit.  I wear a rather unsightly compression sleeve on my right arm often, and always to exercise in. I also squeeeze myself into a tight long sleeved compression vest in those narrow airport toilets just before I board any flight.  The pressures when you fly are not kind to an axilla or arm that are inclined to becoming oedematous (swollen).

So whilst I've never had half as horrendous a time as anyone who has gone through the horrible chemo/radio therapy journey, I do have visible evidence on my body of where my surgeons knives have sliced.  And I know ALL about the fear involved with a cancer diagnosis, or three.

A friend of mine, is a Scientist and currently working on a very exciting new discovery regarding melanoma and a new potential genetic predisposition.  Charities like Cancer Research UK, fund this type of research.

Back to the articles that I have read slating the #nomakeupselfie's.

Apparently women posting images of themselves with no make up on, has been thought to be condescending to those who have had cancer and not looked 'well' during their treatment.  Seriously? I don't think that anyone has intentionally posted a make up free selfie and thought - "I'm trying to look like someone who is undergoing cancer treatment."

Others have mentioned that the images are condescending as they show women looking 'too perfect', even without make up on.  I also don't think anyone has posted a make up shot and thought 'Great now I get to show the world how hot I am with no make up on?'

I also don't agree with those who argue that this no make up selfie trend portrays that make up is to women as essential as water or oxygen? There are millions of women who who don't ever wear a stitch of make up and survive perfectly well! 

To be very honest,  I secretly hoped that I wouldn't be tagged at all in this.

For me, the thought of a no make up photo being posted on the internet made me feel quite vulnerable.  Did I feel as vulnerable as I've felt each time I've been slapped with a melanoma diagnosis? Of course not. but vulnerable none the less.  And I write a blog sharing my life stories freely on the internet! I know that I am not the only one to have felt like this, and so perhaps this vulnerability is a lesson enough in itself for each of us?

Back to being a 'sheep.' The sole reason that this trend has has raised so much money, is because by tagging others or being tagged yourself on Facebook to participate, you are being held accountable by social media.  I think we have all skimmed over friends requests for charitable donations in our home feeds, it's easily enough done. But when someone has posted on your profile page, it's difficult to ignore it.

And whilst I agree that there are 100's of things I could/should be doing that are far more altruistic and beneficial to the universal cancer problem than posting a selfie and sending a text to donate £3, I don't think I would have taken the time to do anything else this week.

But I truly applaud you if you have!

And so if a portion of my small donation goes towards true Cancer Research and those clever scientists can find a way to eliminate some of my melanoma nightmares or any of the cancer nightmares of so many others, I am so pleased that I have done at least something this week.

And if you have been one of the bare faces on Facebook this week, then I proudly salute you too!
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