Femininity is no joke: On the #nomakeupselfie and #‎manupandmakeup‬

Perhaps you’ve come across the #nomakeupselfie in your internet travels as of late — the campaign, which Cancer Research UK latched onto after seeing women posting photos of themselves on social media sites, makeup-free, with the hashtag #nomakeupselfie, began with the intention of somehow “raising awareness” about cancer.*

writes for The Guardian:

About 48 hours ago, a number of self-portraits appeared on my Facebook feed. Each was of a woman ostensibly wearing no makeup, with the hashtag #beatcancer (not breast cancer, not ovarian or prostate or bone or lymph – just “cancer”). Nothing else. Simply a selfie, a slogan and a call to arms, imploring other women to do the same.

I was perplexed as to how a seemingly incongruous gesture could influence the fight against cancer in any way. I checked the Cancer Research UK website, and the charity was apparently uninvolved and at that point seemingly unaware of yet another hollow Facebook meme with as much relevance as “like this post if you believe child abuse / animal cruelty / rape is a bad thing”. As the morning wore on hundreds more makeup-free selfies appeared. One example of such a post: “Here’s my no makeup selfie for cancer! It’s a rare thing to see me without makeup but so important for so many people! #beatcancer.”

Apparently, since Cancer Research UK got involved, the campaign raised over £2 million so far. So that’s something. But there are some other things too.

As I’ve discussed many a time, I wear makeup. Pretty much every day. So I do get how it could feel “brave” to post a makeup-free selfie. I don’t even go to the corner store without undereye concealer on.

I wear makeup because I feel I look sickly without it. I learned this mostly via people asking me if I’m sick every time I don’t wear makeup. I also wear makeup because I’ve been indoctrinated by a patriarchal culture that tells me a woman must work — not just to be desirable — but even just to look “normal.” “Normal” women still remove all the hair from their bodies and faces, don’t have pores, have clear skin, don’t look tired, whiten their teeth, don’t sweat, have soft skin, are relatively thin, and smell like baking, fruit, or flowers. What we do beyond that is a whole other ordeal — the cosmetic surgery, the hair products, the manicures and pedicures, the obsessive exercising, the uncomfortable and even physically harmful outfits (see: stilettos), the dieting, the monitoring of wrinkles, cellulite, and grey hair, etc.

Femininity is an illusion and it is work.

Despite claims to the contrary, women’s selfies are mostly about vanity and self-objectification. As evidenced by this campaign. This is a big part of the reason why it feels revolutionary or radical to post a selfie wherein our faces look “normal” rather than beautified. If selfies weren’t primarily about trying to look attractive then it wouldn’t really matter that women were posting uggo versions of their faces on the internet (which is not to say that I believe non-makeupped women are ugly, but rather that this is the message behind this campaign — women look unattractive without makeup, therefore it is “brave” to post no-makeup selfies).

Some feminists have argued that the campaign makes women who don’t wear makeup regularly or ever seem like freaks. But I think what’s more interesting is what it tells us about femininity and the way in which self-objectification has become a normal, everyday part of women and girls’ lives.

Now, this is all bothersome enough, in and of itself. What’s more offensive is what men have done with the campaign. Can I get a fuck you for these bros?

In response to the #nomakeupselfie campaign, the “man up and make up” campaign was launched by Prostate Cancer UK, which asks men to put on make-up, take a selfie under the hashtag #manupandmakeup and donate to the organization.

What mocking women has to do with prostate cancer, I don’t know. But, really, what do any cancer “awareness campaigns” have to do with cancer ever?

Femininity is only a joke if you don’t have to do it. Mocking women is funny if you are a man because HAHA you ladies put all this shit on your faces (some of which actually does cause cancer, natch) so that we will maybe consider you fuckable and what a bunch of SUCKERS you are! Silly women. Trying to do what we told you to do.

Oh to be a woman. Spend hours and days and years just trying desperately to be visible — to be objectifiable. And when you succeed? When you do what you’ve learned, when you spend every waking moment hating and trying to “fix” your face and body and personality? Then we’ll turn you into porn, mock you, harass you on the street, and rape you. Har.

Apparently “bravery” in today’s culture means little more than either daring to not self-objectify in the most traditional way or doing what billions of women have been doing every goddamned day of their lives, for years, for just one moment. For a laugh.



*Edited for accuracy — March 21, 2014

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • anon-y-mouse (that’s anon AND mouse)

    Is it difficult to be this offended by a lighthearted campaign to treat something serious?

    • Meghan Murphy

      Not really, no.

    • Is it difficult being that oblivious?

      • Meghan Murphy

        I think it’s probably pretty easy to be oblivious. That’s why so many people are!

        • I was just being sarcastic, hehe 🙂 Love your posts, Meghan!

  • Name

    I think you have issues, these men are doing it because they too believe in the cause of stopping cancer. It takes bravery to do it and it is in no way taking the mick out of women. It is for a genuine cause and if you are against raising awareness and money for cancer then you will have a lot of enemies my friend.

    • Meghan Murphy

      My “issue” is that someone posted this piece in some internet forum where everyone has a bad case of the dumbs. Don’t you guys have a monster truck rally to be at or something?

    • Telling a woman she “has issues” has a long history, hope you’re fine with being part of its continuation

      • Name

        Okay Meghan Murphy, create/widen divide between men and women if you want, but at least these people are trying to do something good for charity, whereas all this time you have been writing this article, you could have been planning a charity event yourself, lead by example

        • Meghan Murphy

          Charity doesn’t solve shit, bud.

        • Laur (the regular poster)

          I regularly post under the name “Laur” and want to let readers know the above was NOT written by me.

          Thank you for this informative post, Meghan. I also am told I look sick and pale if I do not wear make-up. So apparently I only look “healthy” if I add colored chemicals to my skin? Sigh.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Sorry laur. I should have noted that. I think he may have done that on purpose as he switched from ‘name’ to ‘laur’. I’m editing his name back to ‘name’ for clarity. Thanks.

          • I’m calling it. Waiting for the first dudebro to show up and tell us that he prefers women without makeup or that women who wear makeup are all whores.

          • “Waiting for the first dudebro to show up and tell us that he prefers women without makeup.”

            Of course they only prefer such women when their faces are naturally acne-free, white and have a smooth complexion. I wonder if these “natural beauty” lovers have any clue what a natural female body looks like. Hint, it usually doesn’t come with hair-free legs.

            A genuinely subversive statement by a man would be something along the lines of “a woman’s physical characteristics should have no bearing on whether or not she is worth dating”. But, of course, people who say genuinely subversive things are considered crazy. Fake subversion is usually a lot funner than the real thing.

          • Brynn

            I thoroughly appreciate my bf, who says he prefers women without make up. He considers it a needless waste of time and money.. he prefers everyone just how they are. I frequently don’t wear make up, but ALWAYS do for work because I have felt it’s more professional and I don’t want to look tired.. I’m working on being comfortable at work without it like I am at home. I hate it taking me longer than him to get ready.

        • The only divider I see around here is you.

    • Jen

      Oh please spare me the BS, how much money is really being raised in the name of cancer research by these guys posting makeup selfies? Or is this yet another BS “awareness raising” campaign. If so, then what a joke, posting a selfie on social media doesn’t bring awareness to cancer research and is a perfect example of slactivism (slacker activism). If not shaving your face for a month posting your bra color in your newsfeed or reposting some inspirational internet wisdom about cancer is all you can muster for a cause then maybe its time to find a cause that inspires you to get off your ass and do something that actually has influence.

      • I agree. I’d been seeing these “#nomakeup selfies” on Instagram for a while, but I thought it was just some boring fad and ignored them. Then I read Meghan’s post yesterday and I found out it was about cancer research and I was surprised it was actually a campaign for something. Most people just do it because it’s trendy, they have no idea it has something to do with cancer research. Well that’s just my two cents.

    • CaoCao

      So if I start a campaign to kick men in the nads # for cancer!!! That will ok, because # FOR CANCER, right? Guys everywhere, take one #for cancer! It’s ok if it hurts you, it’s for awareness!
      It doesn’t have to make sense, or actually have anything to do with, or be related to the disease. As long as it’s #FOR CANCER. If you have any problems with the fact that it’s ridiculous, you will make a lot of enemies :[.

      • amongster

        “the end justifies the means” seems to be the mantra of most people – even if it is obvious that their strategies do nothing but harm.

    • Leda

      I don’t think there is a huge problem with the men trying to fight for a cure for cancer, or whatever. It’s a problem with the people who came up with the campaign.

  • MissVioletFairchild

    I agree with a lot of your post, but you have the original premise wrong: the “campaign” did not originate from Cancer Research UK. Women started taking no make-up selfies to “raise awareness” of cancer (no idea how that would help, since clearly most people *do* know about cancer), and CR UK realised that they should take advantage of the trend. They started tweeting people their text donation number and this snowballed into the amount of donations you mention.
    It’s a stupid trend, yes, but it wasn’t a marketing campaign, at least…

    • Meghan Murphy

      Ah ok. Thank you! That’s even worse, eh? “Raising awareness” with absolutely zero purpose!

  • Great post Meghan. Particularly the analysis of this one:

    What mocking women has to do with prostate cancer, I don’t know. But, really, what do any cancer “awareness campaigns” have to do with cancer ever?

    Femininity is only a joke if you don’t have to do it. Mocking women is funny if you are a man because HAHA you ladies put all this shit on your faces (some of which actually does cause cancer, natch) so that we will maybe consider you fuckable and what a bunch of SUCKERS you are! Silly women. Trying to do what we told you to do.

    I really do hate the breast cancer orgs, all of those orgs actually – all they ever do is funding self-perpetuation. I would even question, given the prevalence of breast cancer, whether modern bras are playing a significant role – it really is not natural to holster up female breasts for the male gaze, the modern bra is bondage.

    • If you are a dd or more, not wearing a bra is VERY hard on your back. I usually wear a soft sport bra when working at home, with no wires, but I couldn’t possibly type for hours without one. Only male gazing at me at home these days is my 18-year-old tomcat, and he had That Nasty Operation 17 1/2 years ago.

  • At first I thought the no-makeup stuff had to do with all the toxic chemicals in many beauty products, but it doesn’t seem related to those much more serious and focused campaigns.

    I’m really not worried about my hypoallergenic brow pencil or my Burt’s Bees lip smudge.

    The main point is that all of this is totally pointless, in terms of either fighting carcinogenic environments or helping those battling a disease.

  • Thank you for writing about this campaign, it’s been bugging me for the last few days. Just like all those stupid facebook status games- write the colour of your bra, a fruit, I like it on the…? And these are all fighting cancer, y’all!

    It seems these days you can do almost anything no matter how irrelevant or meaningless, ‘in the name of cancer awareness’ and it’s meant to be meaningful/brave/powerful. Who is not aware of cancer? It’s not awareness that we need. I know of several women who have lost parents to cancer who are beyond offended by this trivial campaign.

    • “It seems these days you can do almost anything no matter how irrelevant or meaningless, ‘in the name of cancer awareness’ ” – Indeed. Even The Sun UK now says it uses page 3 topless models to make women aware of breast cancer. http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2014/mar/04/page-3-breast-cancer

    • Parents, spouses, siblings, other family members, close friends who are chosen family… I have a friend who lost her SON to cancer when he was a little boy. Seeing a small child suffer like that and die is beyond horrible.

      We must NEVER forget the extremely high rates of cancer in Indigenous communities downstream from the Tar Sands and in other toxified environments (here, mercury and other heavy metals in Northern Québec).

  • europeanfeminist?

    Interesting. I would interpret the idea differently. Because most men don’t wear make-up, wearing make-up is “different” and “special”, so it’s the opposite of “nomakeup” for prostate cancer. One can argue against the sense of awareness campaigns but I don’t read any malice into this one.
    But what is bugging me is your description of women’s attitude towards make up. are you serious? I wear make up because I feel like it. and on the days I don’t, I wear no make up. even to work. (like today). I don’t know many people who never leave without their face on. When people tell you you “look sick”, it’s because they are not used to your face make-up free. give it a week and no one asks. (Though asking that is rude to begin with IMO, just like “you look tired”)

    • “I wear make up because I feel like it.”

      That’s never a satisfying explanation for anything. It’s like saying “I just do it”. There is always a reason why people “feel like” doing certain things. I suspect that for most women, the reason they wear make-up is because they want to be able to look at themselves in the mirror and say “I’m pretty” or “I’m sexy” or at the very least “I’m not an ugly piece of shit after all”. Of course they eventually have to take the make-up off and then they start feeling like shit again, so it never permanently boosts their self-esteem. In fact, every time a woman puts on make-up she is telling herself that her natural face is not good enough and thus making the problem worse.

      So yeah, women may “like” make up but that doesn’t mean it’s good for them. And to those women who brag about wearing ridiculous amounts of make up in order to look “different” or subversive”, the belief that your natural face is “boring” is just another way of saying it isn’t good enough and you’re not “subverting” anything you’re just reinforcing the consumerist notion that how you look is who you are.

      “I don’t know many people who never leave without their face on.”

      If you knew such people, they probably wouldn’t tell you they wore makeup all the time and you might not be able to discern it from looking at them. “Properly” worn make up is not supposed to be visible.

      • Alais

        I agree that the selfie trend is very shallow and that there a lot of other ways to raise awareness that would have more value in and of themselves. But I think Independent Radical is maybe reading a bit too much into things. I agree with europeanfeminist?, most of the women I know don’t wear make up regularly–myself included. It is difficult to sort out the motivation for doing something but I would say that it has about as much significance as which shirt you choose to put on that day. Some days I’ll dress more casually and sometimes I like to wear something a little nicer. I think there is always a danger of attaching more significance to something than it merits. The male gaze exists and impacts our lives. Our perception of the feminine and what it means to be a woman is informed by our patriarchal, often sexist socialization but that doesn’t necessarily mean that wearing make up is always evidence of oppression or a sign of the internalization of the male gaze or that we feel that we have less value without it. I don’t disagree with this post, I just think that a woman can choose to appear as she pleases and what matters more is how aware she is of the effect of the values of her culture on her sense of self and her perception of her identity as a woman. I also think that the whole guys with make up thing is really more in the spirit of Monty Python and not meant to mock women.

      • europeanfeminist?

        you are wrong. As I stated, I have days when I don’t wear make-up. I don’t feel ugly those days, I just don’t feel like it. (or can’t be bothered).How is “I don’t feel like it” never an satisfying explanation? Shouldn’t that be the only satisfying explanation? As opposed to “I have to because society expects me to” ? What would you like to hear? Yes, we can go into detail, sometimes I’m too busy. or too tired. or too spaced out because I am already thinking about work. Or I forget. Or my insomnia made my eyes dry..And when I wear make-up it’s because I want to. because I am used to it. because I like how it makes my eyes more defined. And yes, like any normal person, I sometimes wear make up because I want to make a extra good first impression.(e.g meetings, dates, etc)
        And yes, I can distinguish my friends with and without make-up.(and we do talk to each other, including insecurities like make-up/no make up, having seen them on make-up free days/ in the morning) Sorry my experience doesn’t fit your theory. Maybe not all women fit your stereotype?

        • Donkey Skin

          I…me….my choices… I wear make-up when I feel like it… when I wear make-up it’s because I want to… I like it… my eyes… I want… my experience… me again… even more about me… whatevah, I do what I want!

          The question mark at the end of your name is well placed. This isn’t feminist analysis.

          • hazel

            “This isn’t feminist analysis.” So would a feminist analysis be we wear makeup because of the patriarchy? Would you like europeanfeminist? to say that the underlying reason she wears makeup because of societal pressures? Would you like her to say she is oppressed by wearing makeup?
            If that’s the case, then no radfem should ever wear makeup at all…like none. Because that’d make them hypocrites.

          • Donkey Skin

            By implying that one cannot be a radical feminist and wear make-up, you are once again dragging the argument back to the ground of individual choices.

            Seriously, are liberal/third-wave feminists utterly incapable of thinking outside this paradigm? It often seems so.

            The point of feminist analysis is to interrogate the social/political/economic structures that define our lives as women and girls, in order to reveal the forces that uphold sex-based and other oppressions and figure out ways to abolish them.

            It’s pretty obvious that make-up and beauty standards are highly gendered – otherwise you would see men wearing make-up ‘whenever they feel like it’ and, not coincidently, developing eating disorders and submitting to plastic surgery en masse, and in general wasting as much time and psychic energy on their looks as women.

            Recognising this is not about applying a purity test to individuals, and it isn’t about finger-pointing and calling them traitors and hypocrites. Radical feminists recognise that all women live their lives within these gendered power structures, and we do what we need to do to get by and (hopefully) be happy. I genuinely don’t understand why so many women are so threatened by the idea of questioning the social context within which our choices are made.

          • hazel

            Ohh, I get it. So the point of radical feminism is to question, complain, and cope with societal pressures while waiting for someone to come along and be brave enough to actually do something to change/abolish norms… rather than doing it themselves. For example, the author of this post, Meghan, states that she does wear makeup. But goes on to complain about the pressure to wear makeup. Is that a part of the “figure out ways to abolish” process? Hmm…

          • Meghan Murphy

            Feminism isn’t about individual choices or individual purity. It’s about creating systemic and social change.

          • hazel

            Not sure how continuing to conform to norms is helping create said change; but thanks…

          • Meghan Murphy

            No one here has made that argument. Certainly not me.

          • How the hell can one person’s isolated decisions abolish any structure? You are being severely misled.

          • hazel

            Do you always use such a bitter/offended tone, Francois? Pretty hindering if you ever expect to get your point across to someone who is genuinely trying to understand the other side of things. One person’s example leads to many (especially using a platform such as this blog.) “How the hell” can the author complain, but still conform? I don’t get it… “How the hell” do you propose structures be abolished if it doesn’t start with a good example? Just continue to talk about it without taking action or setting an example?

          • My tone is due to the fact that you are being willingly obtuse. What does someone wearing makeup or not have anything to do with whether they are taking action or not? You are just smearing people for illogical reasons, and it is bothersome. Stop doing it.

          • C.C.

            To be fair, I understand what Hazel is saying and have mused about it myself. This is my biggest issue with feminism: too much talk, too little walk. It’s disheartening, but it’s very relatable. Imagine if women, en masse, said “fuck your bullshit” to the industries that oppress them and radically used their societally unacceptable appearances and dress sense as social protest? The industry would suffer greatly and lose influence. But just how effective is it to admit these norms hurt women when you participate in them yourself? All it does is unite women in their honesty. What’s the solution to dismantling these structures? I admire Meghan for cutting through the bullshit, but… I’m fairly new to rad-feminism, so perhaps someone can elucidate me more on this topic.

            But in my experience, I rarely meet a woman who feels just as comfortable without makeup and have met quite a few who require some certain cosmetic before leaving the house. I’m young, so perhaps there’s an age difference; girls my age seem to be at the apex of their insecurity. If most women were truly being honest with themselves, makeup is often a tool for female competition. Put one bare-faced, hetero woman in a room with dolled-up, made-up women and a few men and see how long it takes her to feel like she needs some lipstick to compete so as not to be the wallflower “ugly duckling”. My 17-year old cousin admits that she wears makeup to be “noticed” and to keep up with other girls. I don’t doubt she’ll still feel similarly at 37.

            And something europeanfeminist said jumped out at me: “And when I wear make-up it’s because I want to. because I am used to it.”

            Because you’re used to it. Exactly. How many women wear make-up entirely for themselves when most apply it before going out and wipe it off when they get home? Is the women covering the blemish on her face when she’s home alone lest she catch sight of it? Likely not. She’s ashamed when OTHERS catch sight of it. It’s like eating at home as compared to eating at a restaurant…I assure you, most people get a little messier in privacy and are, in that regard, being their most authentic, least socially-swayed selves.

          • CaoCao

            I can’t speak for everyone of course, but personally, blogs like these have helped me become more aware. I haven’t purchased a magazine aimed at women for at least 10 years ( since I was a teenager). I don’t watch any programs about celebrities, or about fashion (I never really had any interest in that stuff, but now I try not to feed the beast even for a passing interest). It would be glorious if women en masse got into tanks and charged at Victoria Secret, but we’re talking about a huge, evil machine here. A machine that controls so many of us through absolute fear. As for myself, I wear a small amount of makeup, though it wasn’t until after reading this blog that I really questioned why I did that half the time I went outside. I realized, it’s because I *fear* not doing it. I’m afraid of being looked down on, or not fitting in. I’m afraid of not being “pretty”, because I have been judged so much by my appearance in my life. In fact, it was integral to things. I lived in a country where you had to put a photo of yourself on every resume as a requirement, and you can be sure they scrutinized the women far more than they did the men. It’s the social norm to be made up. To an extent, some people consider it a part of personal hygiene even. That if you aren’t wearing makeup, you don’t really *care* about yourself. You don’t care about your appearance. In fact, you can’t even be bothered to *try* to look better (as in, “Omg you could be so hot if you just wore blah blah blah”). In that way, it can have a large impact on how people treat you, or on your opportunities, and that’s daunting.

            It’s a machine that has had us in it’s system since we were small children. And it’s tough as hell for me to over ride all those years of programming, and face the harshness of society’s ever judging eye.

            I know many women feel the same way. They are too nervous to go to work, or a social event without make up. They might feel okay to run to the store without, but may times when they’re in an environment where they have to look “presentable”, they would be too scared to show up without at least some.

            It’s also equally scary to talk about feminist theory in public, or online. Even on facebook the other day, a friend of mine posted a simple expression about supporting feminism, and half of the guys on her friends list immediately descended on it like buzzards to a corpse, trying to strip it down and insult it. Because I have been reading blogs like this one, I had more courage to stick up for her, and myself. I could counter a lot of their (fact -devoid) arguments. I had always wondered why men who claimed to treat women equally, and respect women, who were their “friends”,acted like sharks whenever anyone expressed anything about women’s rights. Why is it that underneath every ad campaign to help women’s self-esteem, the comment section is filled with angry men putting it down?

            Now I understand a lot more, or at least I have been exposed to theories that made sense to me.

            So this one person’s writing has affected me. It has often summarized things that I’ve been thinking for a very long time, and because of blogs like this, I challenge myself and challenge others around me more. I’ve changed a lot of my habits. I’ve spoken to the other women I know, and have brought up discussions sharing what I’ve learned with them.

            So it might not be an amazonian juggernaut descending on the beauty industry ( though it would be nice. I might recreate that in my Sims game), but it certainly helps.

            Rome didn’t fall in a day. It wasn’t a single event but rather the culmination of a myriad of events and circumstances. So I’m not sure why anyone would expect our society to change overnight either.

          • Lizor

            “Would you like her to say she is oppressed by wearing makeup?”

            See, I’m never sure if extraordinarily reductive comments like that are serious or not. Can you honestly not grasp a critique of a social hierarchy that uses a particular instance/evidence of that hierarchy to deepen a discussion of how infiltrated we are as a culture with a double standard that ranges from petty and demeaning to outright deadly? Can a woman not hold a social critique while simultaneously speaking about instances where that hierarchy has colonized her own practices?

            Are you truly unable to comprehend such an entanglement? Or are you playing at faux ignorance so you can enjoy your own little “I showed them feminists what’s what” happy dance with this irrelevant carping about individual choices?

            The blog post was about an online trend. It was not about how oppressed women are by wearing makeup as you put it, nor is it about how revolutionary thinkers ought to present themselves individually. To turn around and to then accuse people of “waiting around for someone brave enough to actually do something ” leaves me wondering if you are truly that dumb or if you’re just a troll on a derailing mission.

  • lizor

    Can some of the finger-waggers above explain to me how seeing an image of some patriarchal compliant person (and I mean both the men and the women making these selfies) indulging their narcissism (yeah, it may be cultural at this moment, but it’s still narcissism) is going to raise my awareness of loved ones I have lost to cancer and loved ones I have been with as they survive the fight?

    These campaigns: not shaving your pubic hair (oooh: trangressive!!), posting silly innuendo about your purse and so on, trivialize an awful disease that is often treated with even more toxic methods, that may well be circumvented in many cases if people took the problem of environmental pollutants seriously.

    Here’s the ever-wonderful Barbara Ehrenreich on the trite public discourse around women’s cancer.

    “What sustained me through the “treatments” is a purifying rage, a resolve, framed in the sleepless nights of chemotherapy, to see the last polluter, along with, say, the last smug health insurance operative, strangled with the last pink ribbon. Cancer or no cancer, I will not live that long of course. But I know this much right now for sure: I will not go into that last good night with a teddy bear tucked under my arm.”


  • CaoCao

    If it weren’t for women in my feed posting more selfies, or men making fun of the pressure women deal with in everyday life, I would totally have no idea what cancer was.


  • Me

    “Cancer research” has never done anything for cancer prevention and cancer victims either.

  • Interlocutus

    I think all this hullabaloo about no make up selfies is just distracting us from the true evils in this world.

    Case and point, UNDERWEAR FUN RUNS. WTF is up with those….amirite?

    • CaoCao

      Go home keyboard warrior, you’re drunk.

      • Interlocutus

        Maybe a little, but that’s ad hominem.

        • Ad hominem is a logical fallacy. CaoCao was not using an argument, therefore cannot commit an ad hominem.

  • I applaud you for trying to spread some “awareness” about this issue in a different light but isn’t that a bit hypocritical? Awareness from many different perspectives is just that. A discussion highlighting perspective. I also agree with charity doesn’t solve shit, but that could easily be said about random articles on the internet. So when are planning our revolution?

    • Meghan Murphy

      The problem with charity is that it works with the system that already exists and doesn’t address the root of the issue. The system needs to be changed. To do that, people need to understand that the system needs to be changed, why, and how to do it. So yes, ‘articles on the internet’ do help. It’s part of how we communicate ideas and effect change. “Awareness” on the other hand, is problematic in a number of ways — one of which being that it tends not to help people understand the issues or effect change in a productive way.

      In fact, as we’ve seen from Breast Cancer “awareness campaigns” they often are promoted by the industries that produce products containing cancer-causing carcinogens. They never address prevention and tend to objectify and sexualize women on top of it all which, in turn, hurts women.

  • marv

    I have two hypotheses: societal beauty requirements, pornography, racism, sizism, the economy and sexist cancer campaigns create so much anguish in women that these political factors precipitate cancer; secondly, I suspect cancer researchers will be reticent to investigate it.

    • What’s the connection between anguish and cancer?

      • marv

        I was being hyperbolic while at the same time implying that chronic distress could be linked to cancer in that it can weaken the body’s immunity to fight off diseases. Severe anxiety can also lead people to proven cancer causing habits like smoking, overeating and excessive alcohol consumption. The link would be indirect. On the other hand my reference to our ” economy” might be a more direct cause of many illnesses given how many pollutants it uses and exudes. I realize I lack scientific precision and was exaggerating out of antagonism.

    • Me

      I suspect most male researchers would hear but a long beep, a mention of porn and an exhortation to leave it all to them.

      HRT and mammograms definitely contribute to breast cancer incidence and stress. A lot of the technologies and research, while it can be argued help individuals overcome some cancers, which is almost incidental to making a profit, give rise to new ones through all the toxicity they produce and spread.

      And how insane is radiation therapy anyway? The same cult that’s given us the disease is using more of the same to either “cure” us or to fry us? Talk about fantasies of omnipotence and immortality. The lunatics should be the ones paying the cost, but of course healing from lunacy like this has to be communal.

  • Me

    I wonder how much prostate cancer awareness is about prostate massages for the homophobic? Somehow I’m not too surprised at the make up and the effeminization and the misogyny.

  • hazel

    Not attacking, just genuinely curious with questions if you don’t mind answering…

    “I wear makeup because I feel I look sickly without it. I learned this mostly via people asking me if I’m sick every time I don’t wear makeup. I also wear makeup because I’ve been indoctrinated by a patriarchal culture that tells me a woman must work — not just to be desirable — but even just to look “normal.” “Normal” women still remove all the hair from their bodies and faces, don’t have pores, have clear skin, don’t look tired, whiten their teeth, don’t sweat, have soft skin, are relatively thin, and smell like baking, fruit, or flowers. What we do beyond that is a whole other ordeal — the cosmetic surgery, the hair products, the manicures and pedicures, the obsessive exercising, the uncomfortable and even physically harmful outfits (see: stilettos), the dieting, the monitoring of wrinkles, cellulite, and grey hair, etc.”

    So…if you are aware that you’ve been “indoctrinated by a patriarchal culture,” why do you continue to wear any makeup at all? Since (judging by some of your other posts) you’re so against doing things that appeal to the male gaze, why does it matter if you “look sickly without it”? And how can you speak for a whole group by deeming something a “whole other ordeal”?

    If this is a post to simply complain, then by all means! But don’t you believe in being the change you want to see in the world?

    • Meghan Murphy

      I don’t think you’ve read much of my work if what you’re getting out of this. Everyone is a product of the culture they live in. As feminists, we make choices and do our best to push back. The point is to look critically at our choices and cultural/social phenomenons within the context of a patriarchal (and capitalist, colonial, etc.) culture and to fight back against things like violence against women and the oppression of women. Personally I don’t think wearing undereye concealer is the worst thing in the world but whatevs, if you do, I respect that. I’m also not going to defend that choice as a feminist one. Feminism isn’t about purity in individuals, it’s about changing the system.

  • pisaquari
    • Meghan Murphy

      Yes! Thank you!

  • Missfit

    There is no bravery in men putting on make-up for one day (the hardship is in taking the time to do it; yes, it is time-consuming!) – this is just Halloween, a joke, it’s for a good cause. The bravery for women lies in that women know they are judged on what they look like and that people will search for ‘flaws’ (which they thus feel an obligation to conceal). Seriously, are there people out there angrily writing about and detailing a man’s body flaws? Have any woman taken the time to write to a man about her dislikes with his looks or weight, as if this was a personal affront? Unfortunately, we see that done to women.

    The bar on what is deemed ‘normal’ is set higher and higher. Thanks to a media/image saturated (and of course patriarchal) society affecting how we view women. Maybe someday we’ll reach a point where women will just give up on all this, as it will have become just too ridiculously unattainable to ‘measure up’, that they will not even bother trying? That would be very funny. Remember how men were scared since the suffragettes (since forever!)how women would stop performing femininity and let their hair grow and all? Men will lose their boners, the human race will go extinct, because apparently evolution (nature!) has made it so that women in their natural state are gross (yep, that makes sense!).

  • “I don’t feel ugly those days, I just don’t feel like it.”

    Good for you, but you’re in the minority there. 80% of women in the US are dissatisfied with their appearance. The statistics are probably similar in other countries that shove “prettiness” down women’s throats. But anyhow, I’m more interested in what life is like for over a 100 million women than what life is like for one woman. As Donkey Skin pointed out, you do seem to like talking about yourself a lot. If you want to talk about yourself, go ahead and do it, but don’t do it using the “feminist” label. Feminist implies “person who cares about the liberation of women as a whole, all around the world, and not just herself.”

    “How is “I don’t feel like it” never an satisfying explanation? Shouldn’t that be the only satisfying explanation? As opposed to “I have to because society expects me to” ? What would you like to hear?”

    When I say an explanation isn’t satisfying what I mean is that it isn’t intellectual satisfying. I want to have an understanding of how the social world works, in part because I find these issues interesting and in part so that I can play a part in changing the world. Explanations like “I just feel like it” don’t help me do that. I don’t feel happy knowing that most women hate their bodies (the explanation isn’t satisfying in that sense), but I think that fact helps me to understand the world better. That’s what I mean by a satisfying explanation.

    “And when I wear make-up it’s because I want to. because I am used to it. because I like how it makes my eyes more defined.”

    The latter two points are better explanations than first. The second one implies that you put on make up without really thinking about it, which goes against the whole “people are rationally self-interested” thing liberals are so into.

    I think the third one is particularly interesting. “I like how it makes my eyes more defined”. I actually think it matches what I said. Allow me to quote myself.

    “the reason they wear make-up is because they want to be able to look at themselves in the mirror and say “I’m pretty” or…”

    Sounds like a perfect explanation of what you’re doing, except it’s more general. You want to able to look at eyes and say “they look pretty” (“defined” in this context strikes me as just another word for “pretty”/”sexy”) other women want to able to look at their nose and say “it looks pretty”, etc.

    Women have internalised the idea that it is important to be “pretty”. Your comment is evidence of that. Can you even comprehend the thought of a person not caring if they look pretty? Your “like any normal person” comment, suggests that you can’t. I thought you liberals were supposed to be super tolerant, but I guess you think people who show their natural faces at special events are “abnormal”. I’m pretty sure men do that all the time. They don’t think it’s important for their eyes to be “defined”. Why do you think that (about your own eyes)?

    “Maybe not all women fit your stereotype?”

    In case you haven’t noticed, the stereotype about women in our society is that they are “vain” (i.e. they have an excessively positive view of their appearance) and that they engage in beauty practices in order to deprive men of their time and their hard earned money. I argued (and statistics show this) that most women have a negative view of their own natural appearance, so my view actually goes against the stereotype.

    And by the way, my comment was not supposed to explain 100% of women in the first place. That’s why I use the word “most”, not “all”. I know you liberals hate generalisations, but without them we wouldn’t be able to learn anything about the world and I’m not just talking about gender-related issues here. The natural sciences rely on generalisations. Without generalisations we wouldn’t have computers, the internet, mobile phones, etc. Give generalisations a break, they don’t apply to 100% of things, but they’re really useful.

    • Whoops, that comment was supposed to be a reply to someone else’s comment. Ah whatever, the commenters here are a smart bunch, I’m sure they’ll figure it out.

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  • morag

    I find it very funny that the commenters here who are very invested in femininity are telling the radical feminist commenters that their arguments are invalid because they’re speaking too forcefully. Forcefully meaning “you’re speaking in a way that shows that you think you’re right, you couldn’t possibly have thought this through at all, so you should giggle and tilt your head to make me feel less uncomfortable.” Which is, you guessed it…..forcing femininity on us.

  • Alais

    It seems to me that the issue of how each individual woman chooses (or lacks choice based on her socialization) to present herself to others (make up/no make up) is a different issue from the way that campaigns/the media etc. encourage norms or stereotypes that are a result of gender socialization and perception in a patriarchal culture. Thinking about it, I feel the same way about no make up selfies in order to raise funds for cancer awareness as I do about the Dove ads that show nearly naked women of different body types in order to encourage self esteem. Both are placing emphasis on the physical appearance of women and therefore reinforcing the role of women in our society, as objects to be seen. It seems to be a really difficult concept for people to wrap their heads around that what we need to do is stop perceiving women as objects to be seen and start placing emphasis on them as individuals with depth and complexity and value for their ability to act. If we stopped putting emphasis on women’s appearance–whether it is their ability to appear bravely/attractively without make up or nearly naked no matter what their body type or put themselves together pleasingly–women and men would learn to stop obsessing over how women look and women would (though it might be our children who rather than we who have already internalized the oppressive perception of femininity) feel free to be more authentically who they are inside and out.

  • “I believe … the message behind this campaign [is that] women look unattractive without makeup, therefore it is “brave” to post no-makeup selfies”

    That’s a pretty cynical message. Has there been any effort to corroborate or refute that belief? For the individuals who participate (post no makeup selfies), I submit that they might do so out of a sense of solidarity, understanding there’s only so much one can do to compensate for the debilitating effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment; perhaps the motivation to post those selfies is about protesting the expectation that women will always makes themselves “pretty” for public consumption – in sympathy with those whose ability to conform to conventional standards of beauty is severely compromised by treatment for their disease.

    Perhaps the no-makeup selfie is a step toward being able to believe and proclaim they are beautiful, regardless of societal convention, or toward opposing the societal norm that a woman will wear make-up to look presentable, in an attempt to change the assumption that one who is not made up does not care what she looks like when she should.

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  • bambuliacka

    Hi everybody,
    Being a feminist myself, of course I dislike makeup and its power to objectify women…Im not saying all feminists dislike makeup…But on the other hand, we should think about the fact that women are required to wear it and men are not..I consider it quite sexist. I personally love my makeupfree face. Im not too proud about myself, I just consider myself beautiful without makeup, unlike some people I know. It even happened to me that I got nasty insults for my bareface – as a commenter on one social medias lifestyle site with a makeupfree photo in my profile….you know – I acccept the fact that some people may dislike my natural face, but I dont think they should express their opinion in such a rude manner….as one jerk did. He wrote me things such as “you must be a lesbian, you are nasty, you dont even look like a woman, etc.” I also got opinions from some of my relatives who once saw me made-up. They were like: “Wau, is that really you? I never imagined you can be so beautiful, etc.” Hmm….you know – I found some of these comments rather offensive…as a person being comfortable with my natural look…Some comments sounded to me like: “Hey you butch, you need makeup to be beautiful.” 😀 Just wanted to write my experiences. Kisses