The City and the Northern Girl #14


For the past couple of days, both my Twitter and Facebook timelines have been flooded with ladies posing for the ultimate selfie. Not particularly unusual in an age where the word ‘selfie’ has claimed the title of ‘Oxford English Dictionary Word of 2013’, but this is no ordinary selfie. At the risk of sounding like an M&S advert, this is the “#cancerawareness #nomakeupeselfie”.

The trend, with its key aim being to raise cancer awareness and encourage more people to donate to Cancer Research UK, initially stemmed from the author Laura Lippman. Lippman posted a bare-faced photo of herself in support of actress Kim Novak, who was recently criticised for her looks. Yet the campaign has since gone viral – and consequently proved the power of social media – after people began adding the hashtag #cancerawareness to their pictures.


It seems to have taken Cancer Research UK completely by surprise however, as they tweeted “We’re loving your #cancerawareness #nomakeupselfie pics! The campaign isn’t ours but every £ helps”. Luckily, they quickly cottoned on to the surge in donations and made it even easier to donate just £3 by texting the word ‘BEAT’ to 70007. However it seems that the world of social media is divided over the matter – with half criticising the selfies for having little to do with cancer and not everyone donating when sharing their selfie, and the other half rallying behind the social media wave and praising its key aims in promoting the charity and encouraging donations.

It’s a win win situation. With family members that have been sadly taken by cancer and my Gran, who inspirationally beat the bastard a few years ago, this is a cause that has always been close to my heart. It is thought that “more than 1 in 3 people in the UK will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime” and it is estimated that “a person is diagnosed with cancer in the UK every two minutes”. Not exactly facts we can just ignore. Yet cancer metaphorically spreads wider – nearly everyone knows of someone who has been or is affected by cancer. There is a genuine fear for cancer but together, by donating money to the crucial work Cancer Research UK does, we can beat it. One selfie donation at a time.

So for me, anything, whether it’s considered vain or not, that raises awareness for cancer is a good thing – even if it achieved by clogging up my news feed with pictures I’d rather not see first thing in the morning. Admittedly yes, not everyone is donating when they post their #cancerawareness selfie. But lots of people are. Cancer Research UK has admitted to seeing a windfall of over 800,000 donations, adding up to a staggering £1 million in the past 24 hours alone, mostly through text donations, as the campaign took hold. Find me one person who can say that a campaign that simply asks women to pose bare-faced and consequently raise that sort of cash, is a bad thing? Nope, didn’t think so. And hey, for all those who are against the trend, just consider this: if you donated £3 every time you posted a selfie on Instagram, how much would you have raised by now?

So ladies, grab a make-up wipe and get posting and donating. I’ve done mine, have you done yours?

nomakeupselfie column14

#nomakeupselfie #cancerawareness

Text BEAT to 70007 now, to donate just £3 to Cancer Research UK (see for terms and conditions)


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