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March 25

Selfless Selfies

By Ella Miista
A self-conscious teenage girl and a 20-something lad with a v-neck t-shirt might not have much in common. They’ve probably both taken selfies though. Everyone takes selfies. Seriously, everyone. Last week it was put to good use by women across the UK as faces untouched by makeup started flooding the internet. Many think it was inspired by Kim Novak's Hollywood appearance and the cruel comments that followed it. Whatever it was, these, err, selfless selfies raised £8 million for Cancer Research UK. That's a lot of money. Obviously not everyone was thrilled with the campaign. Fair enough - it started with just posting pictures sans mascara. The hashtags would've mounted to nothing had Cancer Research not spotted the trend and jumped on it. We are conflicted. It goes almost without saying that posting a selfie is an act of vanity so in a way we'd be applauding narcissism. At the same time, these selfies - with or without makeup - are posted daily anyway. Why shouldn't a charity make the most of it? OK, yeah, so the people uploading them are masking their narcissism with good intentions. They want a public thank you for their donation too but so be it. A naked face won't beat cancer but the huge amount of money they helped raising will help. There is much to be said about the state of things if focussing on our narcissism is what gets us to give to others. It doesn't change the fact it's been a hugely successful campaign. While an image of a Scouse chick without her eyebrows is pretty powerful, it's not quite the same as one of a chemo patient. We get that. It's just that belittling those that took part is not going to achieve anything. Of course we can all survive without foundation but what's the harm in wearing some? Even Sali Hughes who really isn't a fan of the campaign writes in The Guardian about a cancer patient using makeup to make herself look better. "Another pointed out that makeup and the ability to make herself "look well" was hugely important to her while she was undergoing chemotherapy," she writes. Having baggy eyes is infinitely better than having cancer, duh. But no one would ever call someone going through chemo vain for wearing makeup. Why is it OK to do the same for someone that doesn't have cancer? We're told on a daily basis we're not beautiful enough. No wonder we feel the need to congratulate ourselves for showing our faces in all its glory - with blotchy skin and those baggy eyes. We are incredibly lucky for not having to battle life threatening illnesses. We clearly need to be educated about supporting those that aren't as lucky as us. But, calling us names isn't going to do that. We all want a world where neither narcissism, insecurity nor cancer exist but being nasty isn't the way to go.
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