Hello, you fabulous creature. I hope your week is progressing as smoothly as a well-made batch of Angel Delight.
As pretty much everyone who has Facebook will already know, there’s a huge trend at the moment where women across the UK and North America (and presumably beyond, by now) take pictures of themselves without make-up on, and post them online to raise awareness of cancer. Some people love this idea, some people hate it, and some people think all selfies are stupid. Want to hear what I think? Of course you do, you legend. That’s why you’re here.
Right, let’s dive in: first of all, where did this craze come from? Kim Novak’s appearance at the Academy Awards created a bit of a stir, with people criticising her for having had extensive plastic surgery. According to the Guardian, Novak “has also made headlines in the press for diagnoses of breast cancer (2010) and bipolar disorder (2012).” Not sure that dragging up the other two worst periods of Novak’s life is fair when she’s already having a crap time, but whatever.
I personally don’t agree with plastic surgery in most circumstances, but I would never presume to judge another person for their views on it, which obviously includes people who have actually had surgery. It’s their body, so it’s their business. So let’s just make one thing clear before we crack on: the people who judged Novak for her apparent surgery are absolute scum. Judging someone based on their appearance perpetuates body dysmorphia, adolescent misery and unrealistic beauty standards across the Western hemisphere. Her critics are a bunch of malicious asshats, and they should be ashamed of themselves.
Next up: the initial reaction. The author Laura Lippman was mortified by how people were treating Novak, so she posted a picture of herself without make-up to show solidarity with Novak, and the natural beauty of women in general. Fair enough. First of all, I get what Lippman was trying to do, but has anyone pointed out to her that not wearing make-up and feeling the need to have plastic surgery are not the same thing (and are, in fact, sort of opposites)? Just a thought. I really do appreciate Lippman’s intentions, but I think she made a slightly odd choice there. I digress.
Ok, so now: the craze. Lippman challenged other women to follow her actions, and many of them have. This is where I start to get confused: why is cancer awareness the motivation? I thought it was about women’s natural beauty…but never mind. Anything that promotes cancer awareness is a very, very good thing and should be praised, but the transition from one key message to another can only serve to dilute them both, which is a shame. It gives nasty people like Novak’s critics the opportunity to criticise us for not knowing what we’re trying to achieve.
Also – and this is a big thing – awareness is all very well and good, but what will beat cancer is money, not publicity. I wish that that weren’t the case, but it really is. The research to find cures, training doctors and nurses, drugs and treatments, paying hospital and hospice staff’s salaries: all of these things require money, and lots of it from as many of us as possible. Awareness leads to more people being inclined to donate, which is great and should absolutely keep being promoted. The thing is that if you create awareness without donating, you may as well have just watched a Macmillan advert on television and told someone else that it was sad. What’s the point in promoting awareness if you’re not aware enough to know what’s actually needed to cure cancer?
So, in the spirit of solidarity, feeling gutted for Novak and wanting to prove a point, here is my no make-up selfie:
I’ve also just gone on the Macmillan website to donate. In the long run, I think people will be ever so slightly more grateful for the money than for my face.
This is all just my opinion and I applaud everyone who wants to make a difference. People are beautiful and cancer is shitty, and we should absolutely keep saying those things. We should also be doing something about them.
I hope you have the kind of Thursday that makes Friday nervous in case it can’t live up to your expectations.