Anon guest blog
I’m writing this anonymously, and for that I know you’ll be pissed. But such is the craze of women taking selfies sans facepaint, I know that my life (or at least my internet presence) could be put at risk by females with butthurt. That said, I wouldn’t write this otherwise.
You know, a lot of women going through breast cancer actually want to do themselves up; there are entire charities dedicated to simply making themselves feel and look better. Some ladies even plaster themselves in the stuff – to hide the effects of the cytotoxic drugs, that is. You know the ones that literally poison their body’s cells, rendering them tired, sick, pale and yeah – pretty shit in general?
Perhaps it’s not the make-up thing – perhaps it’s about hair. How would you feel if you’d discovered you had breast cancer and decided to zap yourself, losing them luscious locks not only from your head, but your non-mascara-laden eyelashes and threaded-to-perfection eyebrows? That said, the chemotherapy wouldn’t only fuck up your ‘do. It’d also reduce your number of white blood cells (thereby making you a weak-as-hell body that’s vulnerable to all sorts of infections), and your platelets, meaning you could end up with bruises, bleeding gums, and nosebleeds. Lovely. Throw in some diarrhoea, pins and needles and the fact that you’ve gotta use a condom with your guy (if indeed you are sleeping with a guy) to protect him from these very side effects – and it’s safe to say you’re not gonna to be snappin’ selfies for the Facebook world to see, whether from tiredness, sadness or just plain “life is more important than this”-ness.
But hey, it’s not about all that, is it? It’s about raising breast cancer awareness, right? Nah. Nah it’s not. There have, I’ll concede, been some people popping up in my news feed that have run marathons, held cash-raising events, and nursed family members through this shittingly horrible disease; to you guys, with your awesome skin, hair, knowledge and bravery I apologise.
But as for the rest of those well-lit, sultry poses that have had the contrast ripped up, or an Instagram theme stuck over the top of them; to the authors of these vain, vain photos, go and have a think about what you’ve just done. No I ain’t your Ma – but here’s a little inside.
We in the West are a pathetic bunch at the best of times.
We like to put a few coppers in the nun’s tin, even though we’re anti-Catholic and clued up on Darwin’s deal; we like to buy gift cards with goats on them, to show we’re aware of ‘problems in Africa’ (which is, needless to say, one of the most racist and ignorant things a person can possibly say); we like to hold weddings, asking guests to give their cash to charity rather than buy us useless household appliances; we like to adopt iddy-biddy pandas, complete with info leaflet, to show we’re trying to save ’em from extinction (even though the fuckers won’t just get down to the dirty with one another).
We like to post random things on our timeline, including selfies, to raise breast cancer awareness.
But the thing is, a photo of you without make-up does not raise awareness. You’ve raised my fucking eyebrows and a rally of your mates to follow suit – but you haven’t raised awareness.
And awareness? What even is that? We all know there’s this vile, looming thing called cancer that could strike us down at any minute – we ain’t locked up. We don’t all understand it, how it works, how to treat it, how to help – but surely that’s what we should be aware of.
Make a difference
In the hundreds of photos being taken and posted, just a handful point to links, suggest ways to help, and give advice or information about breast cancer. Most just mention it in passing – “Aw cheers breast cancer – you’ve made me feel good about myself today!”.
Dude, you don’t need cancer to take that shit off your face and be proud. You’re a human. You’re a woman. And someone capable of much more than a selfie. And surprise surprise, not every women wears this shit. Not every woman is comfortable with taking photos of herself for Facebook – not because she’s got low self-esteem, but for spiritual, ideological or privacy reasons (and let’s not get into that).
Not every woman is gendered as a woman. And not every man is make-up free. Some men get breast cancer – it’s rare, but it happens.
When my grandmother was shrivelled up and looked like an alien, stripped of her breast tissue but now terminally ill, lying in a hospice where she knew she would die, my mother started to visit her alone – she was worried I’d remember her that way. She was 59. And I do remember. I knew then that cancer was not something we could cure, fix or even alleviate by sheer good will.
And taking a photo of yourself isn’t even an example of that. That’s a whole other matter regarding the image of women.
Want to raise breast cancer awareness?
Put your iPhone the fuck down, step away from the flash, and actually do something to help.