Wednesday, 19 March 2014

How is taking a no make-up selfie helping to cure cancer?

‘How is taking a selfie without make-up on helping to cure cancer?’ is one of the many questions I have seen people asking on social media over the last 24 hours.

Social media crazes come and go - last month was ‘NekNominate’, now we have make-up free selfies.  A couple of days ago, I saw a post on Facebook where a man said he would donate 25p for every woman who uploaded a selfie of themselves without any make-up on.  36 hours later, women of all ages from all across the country are getting involved.

Last night and this morning my news feed was filled with pictures of naturally beautiful girls, posting their bare faced selfies in an attempt to raise awareness for cancer charities.

My news feed was also filled with those questioning the point of this whole thing.  People saying that rather than posting a make-up free picture, people should be donating to cancer charities and arranging fundraising events.

But are these people not missing the point slightly?  The whole aim of this was to raise awareness of cancer charities and campaigns, not money.  It's a huge bonus that it has managed to raise so much money; and that has only come from the fact so much awareness has been raised.  By all these females posting their selfies, and all those slamming them for doing so, it is getting people talking about cancer.  It is raising the profile of all of the charities, campaigns and fundraising events that are out there.  

I wonder how many people donated to cancer research, and other cancer charities, last night after seeing all the conversation on social media?  Where most people wouldn't have thought twice on a Tuesday evening about donating any money to cancer charities, I suspect an awful lot did last night.

A lot of females who uploaded photos also donated, I certainly did.  It was as simple as texting BEAT to 70099.  This donated £3 to Cancer Research.

Whilst I am glad that this new craze has encouraged people to donate to cancer research, it also does need to increase awareness.  Raising awareness isn't about letting people know that cancer exists, everyone knows that already.  

Raising awareness is about bringing it to the forefront of people's minds; encouraging them to do something to make a difference.  It's about making people aware of all the charities that are out there; the different types of cancer; the ways to check yourself for any signs; the incredible survivors' stories; the fundraising events people can get involved in; the campaigns people can join and so much more.

Last weekend, a 19 year-old girl lost her life to cervical cancer.  Sophie Jones suffered with severe stomach pains for months.  She was refused a smear test by doctors because they said she was too young to have the disease.  By the time they detected the cancer, it had already spread to other parts of her body and there was nothing doctors could do.  Before her death, Sophie uploaded a photo of herself before and after the cancer took hold.  The difference was astounding.  It was this image which encouraged people to begin uploading their own no make-up selfies in memory, support and honour of Sophie; as well as to, of course, raise the profile of cancer charities and campaigns.

Attached to my no make-up selfie was a link to the petition that Sophie’s friends and family have started; demanding that there be a change to the age restrictions on smear tests.  Currently, it is 25.  Sophie’s friends and family are campaigning for this to be lowered, so that more young women have the choice of a smear test and less young women lose their life as a result of this horrible disease.

If you are reading this, I ask you please to also sign the petition.  Not just women reading this, but men too.  It will take just a few minutes of your time.  Please also share the link to your friends, family, work colleagues etc.  The petition currently stands at 200,000 signatures.  It needs at least 500,000 to be heard and 1,000,000 to stand any chance of making a difference.  The link to sign the petition is: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/62385

If anything is to come out of this new ‘no make-up selfie for cancer awareness’ social media craze, I hope it will be that more awareness is raised as to what people can do without donating huge amounts of money.  Of course, fundraising for cancer research is vital and I think everyone should text BEAT to 70099, but raising awareness for campaigns such as ‘Sophie’s Choice’ is just as important.

I would see this social media campaign as a huge success.  I’ve seen people donating, signing petitions, survivors thanking those for joining in, and the subject of cancer being at the forefront of everyone’s minds for a prolonged period of time.  

In the 48 hours since the #nomakeupselfie campaign started, donations by those involved, and those spurred on by it, have managed to raise over £2,000,000.  No matter what side of the argument you are, or were, on, you cannot deny that this social media campaign has done amazing things.

If raising awareness and money in this way gets us one step closer to a cure for this horrendous disease, I would go make-up free for the rest of my life.