When ‘no makeup selfies’ started cropping up on Facebook newsfeeds last week, it was easy to be cynical. I was one of the pessimists and sincerely hoped it would all go away before someone nominated me.
I wasn't alone. The initial reaction from many of us was to label the selfie takers as attention seekers looking for compliments on their bare faced beauty - what could selfies do for breast cancer anyway?
A lot, as it happens. Over €1 million has been raised in Ireland for the Irish Cancer Society, and £8 million for Cancer Research UK, by the selfie posters. One of the extraordinary thing about the trend is that the campaign wasn’t initiated by a charity – people took it upon themselves to help a cause.
But why did #NoMakeUpSelfie go viral?
The unfortunate truth is that cancer affects us all, whether we’ve fought it or lost a loved one through the disease, and #NoMakeUpSelfie struck a chord for that very reason. Also, it was so easy to participate – just take a picture, text PINK to 50300, upload to Facebook. All could be done via your smartphone in less than five minutes.
We can’t ignore that a healthy dose of vanity resulted in the trend going viral. A lot of women, myself included, rarely leave the house without makeup and to see thousands of women present their bare face to the world was a refreshing experience. In fact, many looked better without carefully sculpted brows and concealer.
So does this mean that women will discard the contents of their makeup bags? Absolutely not. But #NoMakeUpSelfie has got us talking about healthy body image, cancer and, most importantly, raised a remarkable amount of money for charity. The sceptics have been proven wrong.