Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 28 May 2020

Uni Life: The selfie generation is evidently not a selfish one

Lately, my Facebook news feed has been inundated by girls posting pictures of themselves – make-up free. This is part of a campaign with the hashtag #nomakeupselfie, organised by Cancer Research UK.

The Oxford Dictionary’s word of 2013 was “selfie”.

Barack Obama wasn’t immune to the temptation at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, and Ellen DeGeneres’s star-studded selfie at the Oscars would have made a great ad for toothpaste.

There’s even a contraption called the unipod that you can attach to your phone to take selfies from a distance. Now, though, students are taking selfies for a noble cause – to raise money for cancer research.

We are outrageously vain. Heaven forbid we allow ourselves to be tagged in a photo that betrays a blemish, or makes our noses look wonky. Lately, though, my Facebook newsfeed has been inundated by girls posting pictures of themselves – make-up free. This is part of a campaign with the hashtag #nomakeupselfie, organised by Cancer Research UK.

The rules are simple: post a picture of your bare face, and text “BEAT” to a certain number, which will donate money to Cancer Research UK. Nominate your friends to do the same by tagging them in the caption.

Ask us university students to shed the foundation off our pimply, corpulent complexions and you might as well be demanding we run through the streets in muumuus, dancing the conga. Apparently exposing ourselves au naturel shows our support for cancer sufferers.

I don’t entirely appreciate this reasoning but it’s working. More than £2 million [Dh12m] has been raised – people really do like taking pictures of themselves.

My friend Shreya thinks it’s strange that make-up is such an integral part of women’s lives that not wearing it becomes a huge deal, and is seen as a brave thing to become a symbol of our fight against cancer.

Tongue-in-cheek variations have sprung up, unsurprisingly, but it’s all helping the cause.

Girls have begun nominating boys to post “make-up selfies”, cajoling them to slap on some lipstick or mascara, although, regrettably, I haven’t come across anyone man enough to rise to the challenge. My friend Aniketa doesn’t wear make-up on a daily basis, so she posted a picture of herself with all her hair in front of her face and glasses perched where her nose presumably was. She looked like the end of a paintbrush, with glasses. She used to scroll past posts exhorting people to donate to various charities, but feels that nominations are a clever concept – if you’re tagged in an appeal to donate, you’ll feel guilty if you don’t.

Another friend, Radhika, is cutting off 20 inches of her gorgeous hair to donate to Wigs for Kids, a charity for cancer patients. “I think that they need it way more than I do to help their confidence. So many members of my family have suffered from cancer and I’ve seen how much it affects not only the individual but also the entire family.” She has already raised £1,100 [Dh6,700] for Cancer Research UK by asking people to sponsor her.

It’s reassuring that so many students are up in arms – without their Bobbi Brown camouflage at that – for an altruistic cause.

The writer is an 18-year-old student at Cambridge who grew up in Dubai


Updated: March 29, 2014 04:00 AM



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