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insight / 4 years ago

No Make-Up Selfie: The Power of Virality.

For those of you that have been out of the country or living life with your eyes (and ears) closed; you may not be aware of the effect that one photo had on the Great British publi...


Dawn Jones

[Account Manager]


25/03/2014 @ 11:27am



Celebrities and normal society alike came together to post a ‘selfie’ of themselves make-up free and then nominate others to follow suit in an effort to raise awareness for Cancer Research UK.

But, why?

Nobody really knows. Some have said it started with a ‘natural’ selfie that author Laura Lippman posted in defence of the ridicule that 81-year old actress Kim Novack received after her appearance at this year’s Oscars. How that ended up becoming associated to building awareness for cancer remains to be seen, but once the charity had been alerted to the connection, they urged everyone to donate alongside the selfie.

Whatever the reason, had somebody in this world owned a selfie-related business, they would have had their best month to date, as interest of the term during March hit an all-time high.

google trends

Google Trends

So why did people get involved?

Some (myself included) joined in out of social pressure upon nomination and the worry of not wanting to look like a person that was comfortable enough to publicly shun something that seemed to benefit a great cause.

Others jumped on the bandwagon without hesitation, proud to shout about their support (and revel in the opportunity of having an actual reason to post their faces online for once).

And then there was the other group (of which I am also a part). Those that have a personal connection to the cause and have experienced the effect that it has first hand. They are aware that posting an image of themselves isn’t going to add any value, but whatever the task, they will show up to support.

Perhaps it would be fair to relate the theory of social currency to this concept. What we share defines the person we are and therefore creates a responsibility to be vocal about supporting such a notion, alongside proving to our peers we are in-keeping with popular culture.

Whatever the reason, using tricks of the light, clever chin angles, lots of pouting, and as much hair around the face as possible, the trend of #nomakeup came to be.

With anything that could be construed as taking an opportunity to be vain by masking it under the veil of a great cause, the reaction at first was negative. Interestingly enough, it appeared to be the boys who had the most emotive reaction to what the ladies were doing.

Some mocked the notion that women were ‘brave’ for posting their complexion sans-coverage, and others felt that Cancer Research did not need awareness building for itself; it simply needed donations.

This sparked a change in tune and from then on, the selfies were posted alongside a confirmation text of a £3 donation to not only back up why they were doing it, but also to prevent any backlash.

Through an emerging battle of the genders, boys then started to gain their own traction. They put up pictures of themselves in full make-up or took pictures of themselves in their ‘birthday suits’ with only a sock to cover their modesty. This was, of course, a mocking retort; thinly-veiled as a support of testicular cancer. But if it is to have the same response as the ladies version, then why not.

It wasn’t just the male population that had something to say. Females were also blasting their counterparts for indulging in a ‘completely pointless activity’, and more poignantly than that those who had, or currently were suffering from cancer were frustrated with the ’emptiness’ of the campaign.

The one group that was most definitely grateful however, was the charity itself. Through all of the interest gained from the selfie debate they reported to have received over £2million in donations within 48 hours.


Whatever the reasons for these different pockets of society contributing in some way to the whole affair; be it negatively, positively, or through succumbing to social pressures (guilty!), you cannot deny its success.

So annoying as a viral hit can be sometimes, and whatever stance you take on this particular matter, when the results are as positive and the money raised is as life changing of an amount as this, who are we to shoot it down?

And for me, the social debate that overshadowed the original intention was the most fascinating bit. Society can be a volatile place to live sometimes.

Here are some of us ladies at Clicky and our own #nomakeup selfies to put you off your lunch.


(Thank you ladies for agreeing to let me post these!)

We don’t offer a #nomakeup selfie service here at Clicky, but we can help you with your content marketing efforts. Contact us today and we promise we’ll scrub up for the meeting.

Images courtesy of Branded3, BBC


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