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#NoMakeUpSelfie: Social Media at its Best

I’m not normally one to blog or put my opinions on the Internet, but in this instance I was so impressed by the positive power that social media can have, I felt compelled to share the story – I’m not sure that the #nomakeupselfie made it across to the USA in the same way it hit the UK.

This social media phenomenon, the #nomakeupselfie, has raised over £8 million for the Cancer Research UK charity in the space of a week. It was a campaign that seemed to appear from nowhere; not started by the charity itself it has now been attributed to a teen-mum who was inspired by Kim Novak’s choice to wear no make-up at the Oscars earlier this month.

One morning my Facebook news feed was suddenly filled with photos of my friends without make-up on, mostly accompanied by messages urging people to donate £3 to Cancer Research UK by texting ‘BEAT’ to 70099. Each post tagged other friends to encourage them to do the same. And it was a similar story on Twitter with #nomakeupselfie popping up all over the place.

It was a concept that didn’t appeal to everyone, and there were many skeptics wondering what posting a photo of yourself without make-up on did to help cancer awareness. Still, in 24 hours £1 million was raised, and by 48 hours the total had risen to £2 million. People were talking about it, posting ‘more informative’ links and infographics depicting how to check your breasts for signs of cancer, and most importantly (and most evident), people were donating – regardless of whether they approved of the concept or not. Other cancer charities also received increased rates of donations – I myself donated to Cancer Research UK after seeing a friend’s post, and then donated to Macmillan Cancer Support (you can donate £5 by texting ‘MOBILE’ to 70550) when I was nominated and posted my photo.

After all, what exactly does taking a photo of yourself and posting it online do to help? Nothing in itself – but then what does running a 5k, or growing a moustache during November do to help? The reason this campaign was (and still is) so successful is because of the viral nature of it – anyone who posted a photo was supposed to donate and then nominate friends to do the same. It is an easy thing to do. In some cases, it tapped into peoples’ vanity (who doesn’t want to hear that they look great without make-up on?) and made them feel empowered. It wasn’t only girls taking their make-up off either. Men, including the CEO of the Macmillan Cancer Support charity, got involved by taking selfies with make-up on.

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