Monday, March 24, 2014

Beauty and the Beast of Negativity

You know those "barefaced, make-up free" selfie nominations that are going around Facebook in support of cancer? I guess they're kind of a big deal. Maybe you've noticed or maybe you've been too busy Youtubing cute kittens to know what's the newest trend on Facebook (don't worry, most of us aren't judging you). What I find alarming though is the amount of flack these beautiful, bold girls are getting for participating in the newest movement. 

I've heard the usual rumblings of "how does this support cancer?" whenever something is supposedly connected to cancer awareness and to be honest, I actually understood that line this time. At first I thought the nominations were to promote realistic beauty, self-confidence and acceptance of oneself, so when I heard that they were to fundraise money for cancer I was a little thrown off. However, the fact that people are throwing negativity at this newest fad is mind boggling to me. People are complaining that a barefaced selfie has no connection to cancer, so why would anyone post a picture of themselves and continue the trend? I find this particularly interesting due to the new popular month of "Movember" that sees men growing facial hair to support, fundraise and promote awareness for prostate cancer. A worthy cause and an interesting new take on fundraising that initially received flack as well, but has now developed into a successful, annual, fundraising method.

The original idea for this concept (if you're interested) was that a group of women decided to raise money for cancer by foregoing makeup for a certain amount of time, like to work or school. The fact that women hide behind makeup and feel insecure without it is evident in our society today and needs little discussion. From movies to magazines and photoshop, the image of the ideal woman is everywhere and most of us live in fear of failing to make the mark. However, these few bold women decided that being barefaced and feeling vulnerable were worthy consequences in light of raising money for a rampant disease that takes more lives than anyone can count. From here, the concept swept the Facebook world by storm and took on a twist of its own. Beautiful, barefaced photos graced my newsfeed, some with a link to support cancer and make a donation, some without. Either way, I can't grasp why any amount of negativity is being thrown at this. Whether a person's selfie is supporting cancer or supporting women being their naturally beautiful selves, where is the room for negativity? I'd rather see a truckload of these selfies than the countless photos that stream my newsfeed on a regular basis. 

Facebook has a way of enlarging our egos: from how many likes our photos get to how many friends we have, to pretending our lives are a constant, blissful dream of socializing and fun. I could find many a complaint regarding those status updates and photos, many others could do the same, but we mostly don't. So why is it when the newest trend becomes the "newest trend" people feel the need to voice their opinions about how pointless it is? 

Maybe some of these girls are posting their photos for self-serving purposes and wanting to get attention for their natural beauty. However, even that is an issue that needs attention. You're dealing with issues of insecurity and acceptance and that desire for attention comes from a place that is deep and dark. It will take more than a few likes and comments to alter that mindset, but to encourage a girl that she is beautiful regardless of the junk she puts on her face is one step towards creating a realistic mindset towards the "ideal" woman.

There are countless issues that these "selfies" represent. Cancer awareness, self-acceptance, self-confidence, attention and so on. In light of Bell's "Let's Talk" mental health initiative the other month, none of these reasons should be taken at face value. Some of these girls are struggling with things beyond what those beautiful faces show and to attack this movement because it may not be about cancer awareness is to forget what Shrek taught us. People are like onions and made up of so many difficult and complex layers.

That girl's selfie may be about cancer awareness, but even if it's not, there may be a different but equally important reason for its existence on Facebook. The unrealistic body image movement that feeds off our society like a parasite is another cause that is just as worthy of promotion as any physical ailment. Let's build each other up, whatever the reason, and not bring out the beast of negativity. 

As a side note: These selfies have raised over 2 million pounds in the UK towards cancer. (

You can also click here to make a donation to cancer research:

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