Because not wearing make-up sucks

[Note: This was originally posted on Facebook.]

I’ve been nominated in the #nomakeup #selfie (or is it #nomakeupselfie?) craze. Thanks to the person who nominated me, but (no disrespect/offence to anyone) I am not going to do it.

Here’s why:

1) Any form of cancer is horrific.

Yes, to have (one of) your lovely 34Cs removed is terrible, but there are women who have breasts so small, they don’t even need a bra, so don’t come with the whole “losing your female characteristics” or whatever that argument is. Boobs don’t make you more girly/female/womanly than any other woman.

2) I guess I’m lucky: I knew only one lady personally who’s had to deal with breast cancer. My grade 1 teacher had it and she passed away when I was in grade 7.

3) What is being done to raise awareness of other, equally bad cancers? I know a very cool Oom who has tongue cancer. It’s gotten so bad, he had his tongue and part of his jaw removed in February. It might not even prove to be worth it. He will never be able to speak, chew, swallow or taste ANYTHING again, for the rest of his life. My dad’s best friend since grade 1 has prostate cancer. He was in remission, but it came back.

In my family alone, I have or had to fight/cope with alcoholism, liver disease, Alzheimer’s, depression (person ended up in psychiatric clinic twice), and grief. Most of these were my dad’s issues, and my grandfather has Alzheimer’s to a very bad degree. In friends-and-family, there were five different kinds of cancer (prostate and tongue mentioned above, bladder, breast and one I’m not sure of), drug abuse and depression (person ended up in psychiatric clinic three times – this was my boyfriend and I truly believed that he was the one I would marry one day).
So I am not oblivious to the pain and suffering of the patients and the people around them. I was a part of that for almost all of my teenage years. I am, in fact, more than aware of how someone else’s disease/issues can mess up your own life beautifully.

4) Me posting pictures of myself looking at my absolute worst is not going to help anyone and it is definitely not going to cheer the cancer patients up.
Firstly, you really don’t want to see me without make-up on a photo – I have not been blessed with photogenic genes.
Secondly, posting a pic of my face isn’t going to make anyone more aware of breast cancer. Posting a pic of my naked breasts will probably do the trick. But that is indecent, based on “normal” standards.
Thirdly, there’s ab-so-lute-ly NOTHING wrong with wearing make-up to make yourself feel better about yourself and everything around you. The cliché of, “You don’t need make-up, you’re beautiful just as you are!” just doesn’t cut it for some people on some days. I’m one of those people, and I am FOR those people.

There are arguments that support the posting-a-selfie drive, one of them saying that it focuses our attention on things that matter, and that we can decide whether we want to see it or not. But we can’t choose, not if you have friends on Facebook whose posts appear on your news feed. Because then our attention isn’t voluntarily focused on the selfies. These things take over our feeds and then our attention is forced upon it. It’s spam, basically. And I won’t unfriend someone because they post one or two things that I don’t agree with. That’s just childish.

People tend to focus on the “awareness” that this campaign creates. But the people on social media aren’t the ones who need cancer awareness. It is the illiterate people in the slums, those who don’t have access to internet and other info, who need awareness. It is the poverty-stricken communities where there are too many children in one household, who are dependent on their parents’ scarce income, who need to be educated and made aware.

This breast cancer thing is getting out of hand, the same as with the AIDS campaigns. The people who truly need the information and awareness the most, don’t get it and if they do, they don’t really care, because most of them can hardly afford he treatment in any case. If the treatment is free or relatively cheap, they don’t have transport, or simply the will, to gain access to the treatment.

This selfie fad is like that colour-of-my-bra thing from two or 3 years ago. I didn’t take part in that, either. How do you think will the women feel whose sexy Wonderbras are now lying forlorn (but not forgotten) at the back of their closet, every time they see your red, lacy Temptations number? It becomes a social media hype, even if it wanes quickly. It is short-lived and then people go on with their lives and forget that they’ve ever posted such a pic.
The whole “no make-up” thing is supposed to represent the vulnerability and feeling of exposure a woman feels when going for a mammogram. But what about the ladies who don’t wear make-up anyway? They don’t feel exposed without it; it’s who they chose to be.
And, as one guy said, if you think going for a mammogram is bad, try going for a prostate check-up!

I don’t think the point of the selfies is awareness. I think it’s trend-setting. It’s fashionable to support a cause which everyone supports right now, in whichever way is now “the” way to do it.
That is why I get so worked up – not because I don’t support this specific cause, but because I can’t understand the whole sheep-mentality of humanity.

Breast cancer is pulled out of proportion. To donate money for research is fine, but also go to visit cancer patients and help them to make themselves look pretty, take flowers and a funny DVD to a patient, go read stories to the leukaemia kids. It is easy to text a few characters to a five-digit number and to spend 60 seconds of your life on a R20 donation, but it is not that easy to share your time, effort and fuel, and very few people will actually do that.

Also donate, then, to homes where raped girls go to try to recover. Or to the various SPCA branches who don’t have money to care for the animals and who are NGO-NPOs. In any case, one can donate without posting the selfie and thereby frightening your whole list of acquaintances.

I’d rather donate to a nature conservation agency/organisation/cause/group. Indigenous forests can’t post selfies to create awareness of them being cut down to make space for housing developments and luxury golf estates. Rivers can’t post selfies to tell you of the raw sewerage that gets pumped into them. Wetlands can’t post selfies to show how mines completely screw up the ecosystem. Beaches can’t post selfies to warn you not to drive your luxurious 4×4 in the sensitive breeding areas. Rhinos can’t post selfies to say, “My horn is bigger than yours but my horn also won’t help you to enlarge yours. Raise #poachingawareness!”

I’m going to say something now that might be upsetting, but if so, then just skip this part or stop reading altogether.

You’ve been warned…

I believe that these mass-illnesses happen because the earth is over-populated – it is one of Nature’s ways to say to humanity, “Stop breeding!”
That is why cures haven’t been discovered yet. When the natural balance is somewhat regained, the cures will come.

As bad as it may be, there are MANY people who are already suffering from something, and even though certain campaigns raise millions for research for a specific thing, there are other issues that don’t receive as much attention, but which are equally bad. Alzheimer’s, for instance. Alcoholism (and don’t even come with the thing of “alcoholism is a disease which can be cured”…), liver cirrhosis, all the other cancers, ALS… What about their research?


I will post a fun, happy #makeupselfie on Friday night when I am celebrating my 25th birthday with my few great friends who have all at some stage had my back through the past 13 years, and continue to do so on a daily basis.
I won’t do it to rub my fun and health in anyone’s face, but in an attempt to put it out there that no matter what, one should at least TRY to #livelifetothefullest in whichever situation you’re in, and be awesome (I know, easier said than done – trust me).

At least then the selfie is for anything, and for everyone I know who’s dealing with some form of cancer, even if it’s not even a “real” cancer but just some other terminal illness or (mental) health issue, not #boobiesonly. And to appreciate what I have, as cliché as that may be – friends, family, my belongings, the ability to use all of my senses, my health, my job, my skills, my knowledge, my talents, and the fact that I can actually connect to the internet and post things in whichever way pleases me…

P.S. #hashtagsonFacebookarestillsilly.