‘No make up’ selfies to take on breast cancer

2014-03-29 00:00

#NOMAKEUPSELFIE — that’s the latest meme to hit the web but it’s one with a notably good cause — breast cancer awareness.

Just like other trends on the net, celebrities are also joining the craze involving women around the world posting selfies while wearing no make up, and nominating friends to do the same.

So far the movement has raised millions of pounds for a British cancer charity — despite some money accidentally going to the United Nations children’s fund.

Several celebrities including R&B superstars Beyonce and Rihanna and British model Cara Delevingne joined the grassroots #nomakeupselfie movement on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

It is unclear how the hashtag first started trending, but it took off last week and grew organically. It then became associated with cancer awareness, and users began making spontaneous donations.

Finally, the charity Cancer Research UK set up a text number to make donating easier, and announced on Tuesday that the trend had sparked an “unprecedented increase” of donations that raised £8 million (around R141 million) in the space of six days.

The charity said the money would be spent on clinical trials.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the support people have been showing us through the #nomakeupselfie trend,” said Harpal Kumar, the charity’s chief executive.

With the meme making the rounds on social media to raise funds and awareness for cancer, St Anne’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg is also doing its bit to help raise awareness by partnering with the “Look Good … Feel Better” organisation to help women undergoing cancer treatment feel better about themselves.

Louis Joubert, hospital manager at St Anne’s, said, “Cancer may sap a woman of her energy, appetite and strength but it needn’t take away her self confidence.

“We know that the side-effects associated with cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation can be particularly distressing for women who often feel alienated and despondent as a result of their illness. That’s why we decided to partner with the ‘Look Good … Feel Better’ programme to give women who are undergoing cancer treatment the opportunity to feel better about themselves through beauty workshops specifically designed to boost their morale and lift their spirits,” he said.

Sue Auchincloss is one such patient who was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago and has had first-hand experience of the harsh side-effects associated with cancer treatment.

“Aside from not feeling well, I also lost all my hair, including eyebrows and eyelashes. Wigs and scarves may help you cover up hair loss on the head but you cannot hide the fact that you have no eyebrows or eyelashes. That is why the programme is so wonderful, because it teaches women how to deal with these side-effects,” she said.

Safire Insurance Company in Pietermaritzburg also took their own twist on the selfie meme and turned it into an a challenge to donate toward Breast Cancer South Africa.

Naomi Hardman of the company said that it all started when a friend was diagnosed two weeks ago (at the age of 35) with breast cancer.

“We were all really shocked and discussed within our office what we could do to show real support. One of the accountants, Clarisa Smale, then suggested since there is a big make-up-less selfie drive happening on Facebook at the moment, it would be topical and fun to piggy-back on this, but as a company,” she said.

They are now challenging others in Pietermaritzburg to dress in pink, with girls without make up and guys with make-up and make donations.

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