#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.

The phenomenon was further used for another brilliant cause, when a victim of abuse in a nightclub posted her #nomakeupselfie photo with a broken nose and black eye. She had been punched repeatedly by a man after telling him that it was not okay to grope her, and decided to channel her rage into something productive. She has now raised almost £16,000 in 8 days for the Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre on her JustGiving page.

Despite criticisms of narcissism, and of people missing the point, you can’t argue that the #nomakeupselfie hasn’t been incredibly effective. It is an example of the enormous power of social media, and I think the world would be a much better place if social media was used more for causes like this, than for criticising celebrities, or things like the recent trend of ‘neknominations’ (neck a dirty pint and nominate others to do the same). This campaign has raised over £8 million for Cancer Research UK alone – that is the equivalent of more than 10 clinical trials, more than 50 years of research into Cancer treatments – and that isn’t even taking into account some of the other positives that have come about. It really is an example of social media at its best.

Jenny is from England (Nottingham, not London, England is bigger than just London). She doesn’t actually have Twitter or a blog because she doesn’t often have anything interesting to say. In fact sometimes she realises her stories are so boring half way through that she tails off mid-sentence. Unless she’s had a glass of wine or two, then she thinks all of her stories are so good she’ll tell them to the same person two or three times.

Featured image via Gwyneth Paltrow’s Instagram

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