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Let Me Take a (No Makeup) Selfie


Here’s what I understand about the “no make-up selfie” juggernaut. It actually started in the U.K as a campaign with women posting no make-up selfies to raise money for cancer research. The money didn’t wash in magically. You were supposed to text “HOPE” to a particular number to donate the equivalent of five dollars and nominate friends to do the same.

Eight million pounds were raised, with the UK donations going to Cancer Research UK, while money from across the pond went to the American Cancer Society. Now that’s something. As a movement, it was effective and basically marketed itself. However, the fact that wearing no make-up and taking a photograph barefaced has little to do with cancer awareness has not escaped me.

But, if that’s what gets people to donate, I’m not saying a word. I wish we were all at a point where donating was a natural impulse but it’s not and until the time comes, we had better all get used to promotions. I’ve made my peace with that.

Perhaps it marketed itself a little too brilliantly. No make-up selfies popped up everywhere and the women posting them were wildly applauded as being “brave.”

It’s not brave, ladies. Fighting cancer is brave. A photograph with a filter in good lighting is not brave. What’s even less brave were the cheats used - no make-up, bollocks. I know lip-gloss, concealer and mascara when I see them.

I’m not saying I don’t take selfies. I regularly do, outside and without a spec of make-up on my face, because I’m in my thirties and that is the best way of checking how my skin’s doing. Photographs do not lie; but those photographs don’t make their way to the internet.

When I do post selfies, it’s because I’ve bought a new lipstick, cut my hair or tried on a new product. They’re carefully curated, softly-lit and with a filter. I’m a taking a selfie, not winning the Nobel Prize.

Life is hard and sometimes you just want to put your best face forward. I like to project success, happiness and cheekbones. Is that brave? It’s not. But it’s real. My photographs in no way look “natural” and I will never pretend otherwise. The no make-up selfies I saw were just an exercise in futility. What was the point? They had little to do with the cause that spawned them.

They didn’t fit the brief. If you’re going to participate in a farce, at least have the courage to own up to it. 


Written by Ambika Muttoo


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