Last month, it was impossible to scroll down Facebook or Twitter newsfeed without encountering yet another ‘Neck-Nominate’ video. Thankfully, this rather senseless trend has had its day. However, something new is having its day too. This month, Facebook and Twitter has been a sea of bare faced women, posting ‘No-Makeup-Selfies’ with the ‘text BEAT to 70099’ caption, as part of a donations campaign for Cancer Research UK. Unlike Neck Nominate, there is a noble purpose to the No-Makeup-Selfie: millions of pounds have been raised, and Cancer Awareness and the millions of Twitter and Facebook followers certainly demonstrates a raised consciousness. But then again, the method through which the campaign has taken hold is hardly noble.

A painted female face is globally and historically synonymous with beauty, from the organic hennas of the Ancient Egyptian woman, to the piercing whites and reds of the Japanese Geisha, and the sickly Barbie pinks of the 90s. Every day, millions of women worldwide shade and colour and tint and decorate, all in the pursuit of beauty. It is fair to say then, that makeup deeply colours our perception of femininity. But just because something is traditional, it does not mean that it is good. The No-Makeup-Selfie is not ground-breaking, as some claim, but just an extension of tradition. It is not normal for women to appear in public unpainted, and the bare Selfies have brought this to the forefront.

For some women, particularly those in the public eye, makeup has become a key structure of their identity. For the likes of Lady Gaga, image is just as important, if not more, than the product. Without makeup, Gaga would still be Stefani Germanotta. The whole persona of Gaga is false, cosmetic, and encourages unsatisfied women to hide behind an artificial version of femininity. This is ironic, considering her lyrical preaching: ‘rejoice and love yourself today, ‘cos baby you were born this way.’ No woman was born with a lipstick in hand.

You might ask, but isn’t the No-Makeup-Selfie discouraging artificial femininity? In short, no. It is epitomising the idea that a bare face is not a feminine face. This is especially true when we think about the comments that have been posted in response to some of these photographs. From my personal newsfeed, I have seen men tell women to ‘put it back on,’ that they look ‘a right mess…like a bloke’ without makeup. Clearly, some men are not embracing of natural femininity, and prefer artificiality. If we believe in truth, this is a problem.

One good thing that has seemed to come out the campaign is the demonstration of solidarity. Despite some negative comments from men, women are complimenting each other all over social media for baring all. Some examples include ‘well done honey, beautiful without,’ and ‘good girl, so proud of you!’ In some perverse way, these comments would suggest that the act of removing makeup for a photograph is a comparable ordeal to fighting cancer.

The obvious backlash against this scepticism is why it matters at all. The No-Makeup-Selfie has raised millions of pounds hasn’t it, and does it really matter how these millions were raised? It’s all for charity. But then again, if a charity organised a nation-wide fundraising event that involved punching people in the street at random, would we all be okay with that? Probably not. Although this is an extreme example that would cause specific harm, it raises an important question: why are senseless campaigns the necessary incentive for people to give to charity? Why bother jumping on the bandwagon and taking a Selfie at all? Why not just give?

The male-shaped bandwagon that is rolling in response to the No-Makeup-Selfie is even less about giving. The ‘Cock in a Sock,’ where men post pictures of their genitals stuffed in all manner of socks, is completely unrelated to Cancer Awareness, and of no more value than the likes of Neck-Nominate.

The discussions and debates the No-Makeup-Selfie has inspired have been exasperatingly cyclical, ‘but it’s for a good cause…but it’s horribly narcissistic…but it’s raised money’ and so on. This article itself is a component in that cyclicality and opinions raised here will inevitably have been recorded by someone somewhere. However, without having these discussions, tradition, which is not always a good thing, prevails. It is through the disputes over the last couple of weeks that the very idea of makeup, and all it insinuates for women, has been called into question. More than just a bare face has been brought into the public field of vision, and this can only be a good thing.

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