I spend as much time online as any other twenty-something, but don’t typically involve myself with Internet social trends. In fact, I tend not to post much on social media at all. I suppose I just prefer to act as more of an observer.
And recently I’ve noticed photos popping up on my Facebook newsfeed of girls without makeup. Most have hashtagged #nomakeup, and challenge their friends to follow suit. The trend started earlier this month, when author Laura Lippman tweeted a picture of herself not wearing makeup, in support of actress Kim Novak, 81, who was criticized for her looks at this year’s Oscars.
This particular craze has a specific initiative. Most women who post a photo of themselves without makeup explain it’s for breast cancer awareness; many have even donated to the cause.
Of course, as with any new craze, #nomakeup selfie has critics, critics who feel the need to post lengthy statuses about why they won’t participate, and why no one else should either. I argue there are many senseless social media trends (the drinking challenge neknominations, for example¬) that many of those same people have no problem participating in without judgment.
I think many people who oppose this particular trend frown upon the fact that it’s linked with breast cancer awareness. Their perspective seems to be that even by bravely posting a makeup free face, it in no way compares to the bravery of those fighting cancer. I personally can’t justify comparing the two at all; moreover, the fact that this trend has raised money for a worthy charity simply can’t be ignored. On March 20, Cancer Research UK said within 48 hours of the trend starting, they had received $3.3-million.
Beyond this, raising cancer awareness is always important, but going without makeup doesn’t have to have that link. #Nomakeup alone creates an opportunity to generate meaningful conversation.
Call me superficial, but I love makeup. I spend money expanding my collection, experimenting with colours, brands and formulas. I love the process, and learning more about it. I see makeup as an art form. But I know girls who don’t care; they don’t wear makeup and have no desire to. Ultimately, I think having the choice to do whatever you want with your face is what’s important.
If it’s empowering to post a photo you normally wouldn’t, great. If it makes you uncomfortable, you shouldn’t feel obligated to. But I don’t think anyone should ever feel ashamed, or feel like they’re hiding, when they wear makeup. For me, a blood red lip is empowering, and a form of expression that makes me feel comfortable. However you decide to express yourself, make sure you’re doing it for yourself. Don’t ever feel like you have to look a certain way for anybody else.
Ultimately, with or without makeup, I am all for selfies, and for this project. There is nothing cooler to me than empowering people to be themselves. I think we post photos of our faces on social media because we’re searching for some form of validation or self-worth. But if feeling free enough to post a picture of your unadorned self inspires even the smallest amount of strength in self-worth for someone who needs it, then I fail to see a glaring issue with this project.
To those who critically analyze the concept behind what seems like a selfish trend: Maybe you believe there are far better, less trivial ways to raise awareness for a cause than a girl posting some stupid photo of her face.
To that I say, you’re probably right — and I suggest you get to it.