No Make Up Selfies – Some Thoughts

Warning: today’s blog contains lots of profanity and disturbing imagery. I’ve been chain watching Zero Punctuation and it’s rubbed off on me (pun intended).

Reluctant as I am to add yet another stream of piss into society’s open mouth, I couldn’t let this no make up (and let me be absolutely clear here that “make up” is definitely two words and not one, but I’d let you off for hyphenating it if you absolutely insist on greater clarity between the verb and the noun. I refuse to call it ‘slap’ because I’ve never like the connotations of slap and women’s faces being used in such close proximity. Also, slap is such an ill-sounding word.) selfie craze pass by without some form of comment.

I’m sure you’re all dying to know whether I agree or disagree with this trend (note: sarcasm) and the answer is I have absolutely no frigging idea. I’ve always held that appointing yourself the moral arbiter of fucking everything doesn’t necessarily mean that you are and even if you are it doesn’t mean that your opinions are right (I hope you’re paying attention, Catholic Church), so it’d be fairly fucking irresponsible of me to appoint myself the moral arbiter, denounce or support this latest trend and then toddle off back to my own special areas of vice and/or contrition.

For those of you who have been chained to the radiators of a stranger’s house over the last couple of days (and don’t worry, I’ve let them go now that the ransom’s been paid), the no make up selfie originated with author Laura Lipmann, who posted a no make up selfie in solidarity with Kim Novak after the latter was abused in the media and elsewhere for her appearance at the Academy Awards on 2nd March. Lipmann nominated some of her friends and challenged her followers to do the same, receiving an overwhelming response. All well and good sticking it to the patriarchy that judges women only by physical appearance and not by what they’re worth is as people, I hear you cry, but what the arse jiggering fuck does this have to do with raising cancer awareness?

Absolutely nothing is my stalwart and rather expected response, except that Kim Novak was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. Not quite a tenuous link, of course, but rather a flimsy one you might be forgiven for thinking (and once again I’m not the fucking moral arbiter, so forgiveness isn’t really in my purview), but Cancer Research UK report that around 136 women get diagnosed with breast cancer every day and despite tremendous effort on the part of the scientific & medical communities, the sterling work of charitable organisations and the general public who support them, people are still dying of breast cancer. No one could agree that’s a good thing and what the fuck does it matter where this all started as long as we get some fucking action going on out there, right?

Wrong! If you thought I was actually going to start this paragraph with the word “wrong” then congratulations on being the world’s largest twatbag. No, I have no real clue about why or how the cancer awareness part got tagged onto this campaign and I’ve no idea really where the comparison is between not wearing make up and cancer, since there’s a lot of fucking people in that venn diagram and by a lot of people I mean roughly 7 billion of us. Not wearing make up is something that happens to all human beings at some point or another and literally any of us could get cancer, but I think it’s a bit far-fetched to assume that the connection was merely these are two things that happen to humans. But not knowing why or how it became what it became doesn’t change the fact that anything that reminds people about the urgent necessity of improving the lives and life expectancies of cancer victims (potential or diagnosed) is a good thing.

Since the campaign started with solidarity over persecution because of not wearing make up the make up bit is kind of self evident and I’ve no objection to seeing photos of women without make up because I happen to like women and I mean that both sexually and as people. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of women I can’t fucking stand but that is no more based on their possession of a vagina than my finding someone attractive is based on the presence of bronzer, foundation, lipstick, false eyelashes or any other form of cosmetic enhancement. In fact, false eyelashes and false fingernails are on the list of things that turn me off somewhere between the generic “feet” (the body parts rather than the imperial units of measurement) and the more specific “being slapped in the dick with three day old haddock”. But I don’t expect or want any plaudits for these firmly held opinions, since if you think that appreciating the beauty of women without extensive or any enhancements from a bottle, package or strange disk thingy is worthy of applause, whilst I’m glad that we can agree that no one – vaginaed (and yes I do see the irony in complaining about “makeup” and then using a neologism) or otherwise – needs additional face support to look pretty, this isn’t a minority view amongst the men that I know. Almost all of the ones I’ve asked about this have said that they prefer a woman’s natural beauty and I know they weren’t lying because there were no women around to impress at the time. Maybe it’s a minority view overall but I’d rather you didn’t burst my utopian bubble if it’s all the same to you.

Not that there’s anything at all wrong with wearing make up either. I can’t pretend that I don’t want to look pretty (or handsome for those of you so bothered by the weight of your own masculinity that you need to have different adjectives for your pulchritude) sometimes and dress up a bit more. I remove stray eyebrow hairs with tweezers and by stray I mean about thirty centimetres longer than all the others and for some reason white for half the length. My eyebrows are run like a fucking dictatorship – you either conform or you are pulled from your bed without so much as a by your leave. I don’t want to lay claim to equivalency with the things women feel they need or are told they need to do to their faces and bodies to make them look pretty, because that’s just not an argument I’d ever win and I’d be reluctant to have because I’d be arguing with myself and I’ve been known to use barbed wire laced with sarcasm as a retort. It’s a confusing situation for me anyway since my likes and dislikes are completely unique to me, but also programmed by the same society that tells women they need to do all these things, so while I have no objection to women not shaving their legs, for instance, a shaven leg appears prettier to me. But then so does red hair and I don’t go so far as to insist that every woman I meet dye their hair red and I wouldn’t expect it of my partner (if I had one) either. If they want to dye their hair, fine, I won’t stand in their way. If they don’t, equally fine. Look at this face, is this the face of a man who gives a toss either way what colour your hair is or whether your legs are hairless as compared with the unique mutual respect, friendship and love that we’ve built up in the twenty minutes we’ve been flirting in this back alley pub? There are far more important things to the successful prosecution of a relationship than hair colour, the bronzeness of skin, or the hairiness of legs.

Of course, there is a sense in which looking attractive to your partner is important as well, so I’ve little sympathy with people who abandon all pretence at looking pretty for their significant other and then bemoan that they won’t touch them – men and women, I’ve heard this complaint from both albeit through the muffling effects of me chanting “must not stab their eyeballs” over and over again under my breath. I mean, the physical attraction definitely should go deeper than the surface (innuendo intended) and some of my best sexual encounters have been five minutes after waking up with a mutual hangover, both looking pale, tired, and in need of four pints of water and twelve hours sleep, but feeling like doing it anyway. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t try a little bit to maintain some sense of looking good. Sometimes that’s as simple as making sure you continue to shower every day and don’t exclusively inhabit a furry onesie and sometimes it’s as complicated as wearing a fire fighter’s uniform whilst tied to a chair in a warehouse miles from civilisation with no working phone line with your genitals glazed in honey. To each their own. And if it boosts your self-confidence to put a bit of blusher on or whatever then fine by me, continue to live your life as you see fit and good luck to you, my good man or woman.

Ultimately, what I see from these selfies are a bunch of people trying to make a difference and I’ve no quarrel with that. Some people might be concerned with their Facebook news feed becoming clogged with pictures of women without make up, but since at least 50% of things on Facebook are banal or vapid, where they aren’t completely insipid, I’ve built up a relative immunity to scrolling past things I don’t want to see and no doubt so have you, Mr “my news feed is too precious for others to hijack it”. I mean what the fuck do you think a news feed is for? It’s a feed of the news, the thing your friends are doing. They’re doing this thing for cancer awareness. Don’t you feel like a dick now? Well, you should. Anyway, you can hide individual posts and individual posters from news feed if it so offends you and you can go back to having your selfie-free life.

I sympathise to a certain extent with reluctance down to naked hatred (pun intended) of these nominate games and similar that are so popular on social media sites. If you took part in the NekNominations then I am judging you quite hard and I think it’s sad that you felt the need to do something that amounts more or less to self harm in public because you didn’t have the self confidence to say no. Such games have their sociological sides and NekNominations demonstrated amply where young males are being left behind by a culture that doesn’t teach them what being a man means, but that’s a rant for another time. To sum up, I am about as much interested in taking part in chain games as I am in cutting into my skin with razor blades and smearing diarrhoea into the resulting wounds, i.e. not very. This also extends to pictures of fine art, Nicolas Cage, or any other trend against another equally vapid trend as well.

In this case, though, I think it does more good than harm and reminding people that there’s still a fight to be had against cancer is something I’ll get behind in spirit. It’s not how I’d personally choose to promote the work of Macmillan or Cancer Research UK or any other charitable organisation dealing with cancer victims and their families and I don’t think that my face is in particular going to change the world, but if it’s going to up donations then fill your boots.

Incidentally, there’s been some backlash about people posting the selfies and not providing a link or donation details alongside. I can see where the criticism would originate here and I can see that it may appear to be egotism veiled thinly by the spectre of charity work, but to the people who hold to that view: fuck off, please go get your head stuck in the railings of a primary school so that they put you on a national register. That’s not because you’re criticising others, but because you can’t seem to work a fucking search engine. I’m not saying people shouldn’t include the details and that’s obviously helpful in explaining what you’re doing and why, but the absence of immediate donation details doesn’t undermine the sentiment and intent of any given campaign. And if it’s all about posting selfies rather than helping raise awareness remind me why the fuck they need the excuse? People aren’t exactly shy about doing selfies, are they? No, they’re everywhere like cheddar and secret racists. Besides which, lots of people I know who never post pictures of themselves taken by other people let along by themselves are getting in on the action, because the heart of it is a good.

So it turns out I did know what to think about it, despite my prevaricating earlier on. Sorry to my usual readers who aren’t used to this more profane style I’m using today and congratulations to anyone supporting the work of cancer charities in any way, selfie or otherwise. Links further up the page (underlined) for making donations. Go do that and let’s improve the numbers. We’ve got nothing to lose but our loved ones.

4 Responses to “No Make Up Selfies – Some Thoughts”
  1. Very well written article Nick. Much like you I cannot see or understand the link between being make up free and cancer, but support the simple notion that raising awareness and reminding people of the fight that needs to be fought is a battle still being waged.

    To that end, I did get involved with a few male writers I know and we posted selfies of men (ourselves, not random males) wearing make-up / makeup / make up (to appease all possible grammar based parties).

    Why did we do this? Well, much like the idea behind the selfies, I have no idea. Maybe because we thought it would be good to show that men get cancer also, or because well, it was a bit of fun, in the name of a good cause, or possibly because we have certain closeted tendencies and this provided a good platform for us to air these urges in public without fear of backlash. 🙂

    Anything that helps make people aware of cancer research and funding is a good thing. I am all for it and will always make a donation along side any other inferred charitable actions, such as said selfies.

    The real trick is (and apologies to any sensitive folks who made through the post and this comment,) to ensure that the supposed people in charge of these donation drives actually use the money that has come in in a way the benefits the research and no lining their own pockets, as is the more likely case.

    • Nick says:

      Thanks for that, Alex, and thanks for commenting. I saw your (and others’, elsewhere) made up selfies and felt much the same about the sentiment behind it – we’re all in this together – but didn’t find room to talk about it in the article. As you say, cancer affects men as much as it does women – prostate cancer and testicular cancer aren’t exactly secrets and research also needs to be done into finding cures and treatments for those conditions, so it’s good to see men getting in on the action. As, usually (and I stress the ‘usually’ for anyone who might think that I don’t think men can or do wear make up) men don’t wear make up, a natural selfie wouldn’t much work, so the reversal is a logical step.

      A few of these I saw on Facebook through friends of friends (not yours) were disappointingly responded with cries of homosexuality, but there will always be the dull and the ignorant to foul things up for the rest of us. I’m willing, of course, to admit that wearing make up is habitually a thing that women do rather than men but I’m reluctant to equate wearing make up with liking cock. Undoubtedly there will be crossovers, but you could say the same of all areas of life and anyway what’s the problem if you do a) wear make up and b) are gay, I would ask these people if I didn’t think fraternising them would cause my brain to seep out of my ears and my eyeballs to explode from sheer rage. Anyway, such comments weren’t in the spirit of the campaign, so bollocks to them anyway.

      But you raise a good point about the use of the money. It’s important, always, no matter the cause, to ensure that the charity you’re donating to is reputable and publishes their financial data to show that. I don’t think you can much go wrong with Macmillan and Cancer Research UK, but it is possible to get caught out, c.f. Kony 2012.


      • Very true Nick, there is no direct correlation to being gay and wearing make up. These small minded people will always exist, and continue to spoil things for the majority. We could even argue the case at their simplified way of thinking that Lesbians wear make up and have a distinct aversion to cock, so one and the two could not possibly be related.

        There was an issue over here in the Netherlands re. the money being invested in research for, and I believe it was Breast Cancer research, whereby the total raised and the total invested were different by about 80% of the raised fund. When you see that some of these people running the charities earn upwards of $3 million a year you cannot help but wonder about the genuine depth of their belief in the cause they champion.

        Then again, my levels of cynicism far outreach my years.

        – Alex

      • Nick says:

        Ah, well, that is a significant misuse of funds there and well worth noting. Even with charity we have to be careful and I think it’s helpful to have at least a dram of cynicism in approaching anything 🙂

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