The No Makeup Selfie and Exposing Yourself In Public

I admit it. I felt an immense sense of relief when no-one nominated me to post a no makeup selfie on Facebook.


Cosmetics (Photo credit: My Sight, as You See.)

I wish I could excuse myself and say, like some critics of the campaign, that I simply didn’t understand the point of how the campaign could help cancer sufferers.

But my reasons were much more shallow than that.


The sad truth is that I’m simply too vain. Which makes me either a coward or uncharitable, you decide.


I wouldn’t have considered myself vain before though. I’m the woman who gets showered and ready at least twenty before everyone else, still doesn’t know or care what a hair straightener does, have never had my nails manicured and feel just as comfortable with both hairy and silky-smooth legs.


But to fully expose myself in public in all my middle-aged glory?  Thanks but no thanks.


For starters, I look really shit without makeup. I’m not a Gwyneth Paltrow or one of those ‘natural’ beauties who looks irritatingly more beautiful without makeup and whose inner beauty shines through. I’m naturally a vampire with permanent panda circles around my eyes that make me look like I should be an extra on a Lord of the Rings set.

Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow (Photo credit: rocor)

Makeup gives me courage. Something to hide behind.


Uploading a photo of myself without makeup would be like having sex in the morning. I am at my most irritable in the mornings and feel completely unsexy, so why on earth would I want to have sex? But by day I become a glamour puss – I wear heels to go to Coles and have drummed into NC that she must always wear her best knickers in case she winds up in Emergency.


Of course, it did cross my mind that this campaign wasn’t about ME and that my fugly photo might help women suffering from the indignities associated with cancer, by sharing my own loss of dignity.


But I’ve watched many friends fight cancer and it’s a lot more invasive than not putting your foundation on in the morning.


And I don’t think I’m uncharitable, either.


Party Dress Trisha

I’ve done stuff for charity. I rode fifty-three miles from London to Brighton on a pushbike in 33 degree heat for the Heart Foundation in my fortieth year. With stitches in my arm from when I fell of the bike in training. It was the worst experience of my life and at one point the old man had to shout at me to pull myself together.


But I’d do it again rather than take off my make up on Facebook.


Confusing, I know, when I spend my life sharing the private moments of my family via a blog, in words, and am also not averse to ridiculing myself in so many other ways.


And I take my hat off to my friends who exposed themselves. I admit that when I saw them in all their middle-aged gorgeousness posting photos of their natural beauty online for the sake of others, I felt immediately guilty and envied them their courage and inner confidence.


I could have posed and pulled a silly face, maybe. But to look straight into the lens of the camera, devoid of my mask, that takes courage.


There’s still a lot of work to be done.






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The Girl With The Burnt Orange Hair

It has been a roller coaster of a week emotionally, with RUOK Day, the anniversary of 9/11 and the lead up to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A week to reflect on the people no longer with us and a week to make sure we show those who are in our lives, how much we care. A week to remind ourselves not to sweat the small stuff and to focus on the privilege of living instead.

And all that mass of tightly coiled, confused emotions were well and truly rammed home to me on Tuesday, while waiting in the orthodontist reception, (as the ADHDer was once again convincing the Ortho that he really does wear the ‘bands’ on his braces, even though I know that he actually creates mini sling shots out of them to fire at the dog).

Because while I was hiding in awkwardness behind the latest edition of Famous Magazine, trying to digest the full ramifications of this life-changing article entitled ‘Is this too skinny?’, (complete with bikini-clad images of skeletal celebrities who normally look….well, skeletal), I looked up and noticed this woman sitting opposite me who was wearing the funkiest orange retro wig I have ever seen, (outside of a Vivienne Westward fashion runway or circus-themed party). It was a brave and feisty look on a woman in her forties, and it smacked of attitude.

That wig said, ‘I’m a fighter’.

And she reminded me of all those friends of mine who have bravely fought their own breast cancer battle, who sometimes I shamefully put to the back of my mind, so embroiled do I get in the minutiaie of my own petty existence, and I felt instantly humbled.  Even though, I must add, most of those women are the strongest women I know, because if I have learned anything about breast cancer, out of adversity evolves true warriors.

Personal battles do seem to fortify us humans, whether the battle is a health issue, a death in the family or even a divorce. And the inner strength that develops from pain becomes compellingly visible to those who witness it. I was drawn to the aura of that woman in the waiting room like a moth to a flame. I felt sheer admiration for her bravery.

She was about my age, and was unquestionably beautiful, in spite of the ‘in your face’ brassiness of that wonderful tangerine wig. And she made me question if I would have the same strength of spirit to carry on with my day to day responsibilities if those tumultuous dark forces threatened my being?

Was she truly coping? How do you cope when you are a wife and a working mother and your whole world is suddenly brought crashing down by a few dodgy cells?

The rest of us need those reality checks occasionally to remind us of those people confronting life-threatening situations on a daily basis, to put our own pathetic little grievances, (that I still find plenty of time to whine about in spite of this incredible insight), into some sort of perspective. My son refusing to brush his birds nest of a hairstyle or my husband communicating with me via the dog are obvious irritations, but they are totally inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

English: Breat Cancer ribbons
English: Breast Cancer ribbons (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And as wonderful as it is that celebrities such as Giuliana Rancic and Sheryl Crowe reveal their breast cancer to the world and create a public platform to educate and gain support in the fight against the disease, I think that many people still have a very warped perception of the traumatising reality of this disease.

Because real women are not back in the workplace within a few weeks of invasive surgery and treatment. Normal women would never conceive of adding to their family in the same period as their diagnosis. Normal women do not regain control over their bodies in the first few months. Real women suffer physical and mental scarring and above all, a pervading fear that takes a long time to heal. Real women have to rebuild their lives after the ravages of cancer.

And yet, in spite of that dark period in their lives, these wonderful women do fight and they do heal and they and their families eventually emerge from the tunnel with the sort of passion, and strength and zest for life that we envy them for.

The girl with the burnt orange wig showed me that strength at the orthodontists. And if I’d have been half the person that she is, I would have asked her RUOK?

‘Without the disease, I might have just plodded along this life not really appreciating the beauty of every breath’ Jacki

‘Back’ courtesy of Opiatefilms at