Friday, 21 March 2014

#nomakeupselfie and/or #makeatinydentinyourworld instead

For a few days the No Makeup Selfies have been making an impact on my Facebook world. Why? Two reasons which I will spell out reasonably carefully.

Reason 1: Women getting behind the #nomakeselfie #cancerawareness trend
A few Facebook friends - and a lot of friends of friends - having been jumping on this trend like a trampoline. I'd suggest very few of them wear makeup on a regular enough basis for it to be a big thing to go without make up. This should not be a big deal. Okay, so perhaps I'm a bit biased as generally speaking I've got good skin and rarely need to cover up blemishes. But if taking the photo, and (sometimes) encouraging people to donate money to a cancer charity helps you, that's fine by me. If showing your solidarity for cancer patients by going without makeup is your thing, go for it.

Reason 2: People against the #nomakeupselfie trend
I'm part of Reason 2 for an important reason. I'm all pro taking selfies - after all I didn't live by myself for seven years without taking any - but not this way. I think trends like this don't honour the men and women who are fighting cancer, or who have sadly lost their battle with this dreadful disease.

In 2007 I lost one of the people who loved me most in the world - my Pa. He was one of the funniest, kindest and most caring person you would ever have the pleasure to meet. We laughed a lot, he wrote me constant poems and letters when I moved away to Adelaide because he knew I was homesick and he introduced me to The Sound of Music and would happily sing along to every single song - especially 'Climb Ev'ry Mountain'. That was until he got sick and he couldn't do those things anymore. In my little world people didn't get sick - with cancer no less - and they certainly never got sent to hospital, apart from the odd accident on a BMX bike. So, I guess, over the next few months there were numerous trips from Adelaide to Warrnambool, countless hours of sitting in hospitals, making phone calls when I couldn't be there or worrying and hoping and praying and wishing. I wouldn't trade any of that in a heartbeat. But come to me at that time in my life with your #nomakeupselfie for cancer awareness and I would have quite happily have taken a swing at your cosmetic-free face.

I made a promise to my Mum that I would do everything I could to prevent cancer from touching me again. A few months later the HPV vaccine - known here in Aus as Gardasil - was released and I went in for all three rounds. Afterwards I was given a tattoo and a little card suggesting to post a photo on social media the phrase 'I did'. That my friends was probably one of #thebestselfiesievertook.

If you want to get behind a charity, find one who means something to you. Yes, giving at random isn't a bad thing, but giving a set amount each month is much better and more reliable for the group who is raising money. This makes your giving sustainable for both your and the charity you are supporting. I give to the Cancer Council of South Australia. How much do I donate? No very much. In fact, you'll be surprised - five dollars a month. Why? Because no matter what, since 2007, I've always been able to afford $5. I have gone through times when I have had no income for weeks and I have always had just enough to donate. Another reason is that my Pa and Gran would give us $5 pocket money when they saw us every few weeks. It was a nod to that special tradition.

I have never been too convinced about colours representing a cause as the same colour can represent many things. For a long time after my Pa had passed away the only message I was really interested in was 'hope', the same colour as the Daffodil Day. I knew I wanted that bright yellow colour on my wedding day. I had also seen these special cards in a wedding magazine, and knew that it was something I wanted to do as well. I was beyond touched when other people wore their daffodil pins at our wedding reception, especially my Granddad.

Honestly, in some ways this blog has been a bit 'look at me, I'm awesome'. I apologise for that and it wasn't really my intention. I could write about the countless things other people I know have done - people who do Relay for Life, people who run market stalls just to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, schools who run Australia's Biggest Morning Tea each year. Those things are special and they are really important, but they aren't my story to share. I'm just a country girl who has decided to make a tiny dent in the world, and maybe I can inspire you too just to do something small for yourself - like getting a vaccine or supporting a charity in an affordable way - that you might not have considered before.

This blog is the reason I don't support #nomakeupselfies

But if you still do, I won't be upset. We are all making our tiny dent in our own way and only good things can come of promoting cancer awareness. Take care kids and hug someone you love today.