Is there something deeper behind selfies and a lack of make-up? What are we really saying about beauty here?

Miley Cyrus Instagram
Photo Credit: Miley Cyrus’ Instagram

You probably would’ve seen that there is a pretty cool awareness campaign going on at the moment on different social media sites. The main gist of it is women taking photos of themselves without any make-up on to raise awareness for breast cancer. It’s a neat little initiative that is getting a lot of good traction and getting people talking. One of my friends kind of accurately pointed out that it’s not just about raising awareness, but also about putting that awareness into action – but I digress.

Selfies are getting increasingly popular. For the uninformed, a selfie is when you take a photo of yourself. Wow I know. The kids nowadays are getting crazy. It’s the premise of this campaign. And it’s something a lot of people are in the practice of doing quite regularly – if not daily, then sometimes even more frequently.

The other premise is doing it without make-up. For the uninformed in this department, make-up is when you put some magic powder on your face to make all your troubles go away. I think we’re all pretty familiar with the idea of make-up. But an interesting stat is that the make-up industry is worth $160 billion dollars a year. That’s nothing to let your foundation make you sneeze about – that’s a *lot* of money!

And each of these two ideas seems to drive some deeper issues worth talking about. So let’s have a looksie!

Seeking Attention?

Most people write off selfies as an attempt to garner attention. I guess if you were to be honest, most things that go on social media are there for people’s attention. We upload statuses about our holidays or victories at work, we put up links to things we think are funny or that we like and what others to experience, and we post photos of ourselves in different places in an attempt to share our world with others. We want everyone to see them!

I guess you could say anything you publish online is seeking attention, otherwise you would just tell yourself. You wouldn’t need to put it up for Xty thousand people, you could just whisper it quietly in the corner all by your lonesome and move on.

But the selfie, and especially when they exist in abundance, typically garner the attention (there it is again) of a vocal group who pitch it as a cry for help or a need to be noticed. The New Narcissism is another term I’ve heard for it. So how much truth is there to that?

I guess it’s up to the motive of the poster. When you’re posting something up to keep your friends updated and informed, that’s pretty normal I think. But where does flagging things for people attention turn insidious, and what does it tell us about ourselves?

The Search for Validation

I think this whole thing finds its context within our search for validation. All of us are looking for someone to tell us we’re doing a good job. To give us a pat on the back, to celebrate our lives. In the case of the selfie, it’s usually a race for “Likes” or “Loves” or shares or comments.

It’s almost as if we’re waiting for someone or something to give us the magical nod that’s going to help us feel validated in what we’re doing.

Where do you get your validation from? What is it that gives you meaning? What tells you you’ve done a good job? Or that you haven’t?

Or how about the deeper one…

Whose approval are you looking for before you’ll be happy?

I think our actions don’t define us like Christian Bale’s Batman so famously put it – I think they locate you. They indicate to some extent your level of security and contentedness.

And you, my friend, are worth far more than any number of likes could tell you.

If you are constantly at the mercy of the opinion of others for your happiness, you are in an unstable place indeed. Because one day you’ll be the happiest person alive because everyone’s telling you you’re doing good and you look good and you’ve got a marketable look and you’re all that.

But what about the day that people forget to say anything? Or they don’t?

Your value is far beyond such surface things.

Making Up for What?

So let’s turn our attention to the no make-up thing. There seems to be a lot of fear for quite a number of women in being seen without make-up. It’s viewed as a very “brave” thing to do, “such a noble thing”, “good on you you courageous girly girl you. XOXO”.


What are you making up for usually?

Hey, I’m not saying “don’t wear make-up”. But I think the cosmetics industry has a foothold in the world because they have absolutely nailed their market strategy.

Accommodate for insecurity.

Isn’t that what make-up really helps with? If you’re feeling down, you put some stuff on and no one is probably going to know. If you’ve got some sort of blemish or fault, you won’t after a few minutes (or however long it takes you) in front of the mirror with your girls Estee, Mariah and whoever Loreal is. And now all of a sudden “you’re worth it”.

I guess my point is here again that your beauty isn’t skin deep. Or by what you put on the skin’s surface. And yet this is the pressure of our modern society – you need to look like X with Y’s product to be accepted by Z and be considered beautiful.


You’re gorgeous because of who you’ve been made to be. The hidden person of the heart which is so precious to God. And it’s so precious to people who know what to look for.

Your beauty doesn’t come from a bottle, it was given to you in the womb. And each day is a chance for the world to see it.

And to be fair, sure, make-up can be used to accentuate the features you’ve already been given, and sometimes it is good to just give you a bit of a pick-me-up and make you feel good, which is important. Just don’t let the lie of needing a product to “be more beautiful” drive you to disappointment or frustration.

The Search for Acceptance

I guess what both of these points of this campaign really highlight are our search for acceptance. Someone, accept me as beautiful. Someone, accept me as I am. Someone, accept me without my mask on. Someone, accept me beyond the bottle, beyond the filter, beyond the lighting, beyond where I find myself.

Someone, love me for me.

And you are loved, just as you are. You are beautiful, just as you are. Let that be the foundation of all your activity.

There’s an idea that has been somewhat lost, and that is that physical beauty is not the be all and end all. In fact, you ask quite a number of happy couples and they’ll tell you that a person’s physical features grew on them over time. If you love someone, you learn to love all of them.

And don’t you forget to do the same. You and I are looking for people to accept us as we are. Hey, so are all your friends, your family members, and even those people whose selfies and other photos drive you insane.


Beauty is one of my favourite topics, and this post is no doubt a precursor to doing some more writing on it sometime soon. But I hope that we can all see in this recent viral push that we are all in the same boat on a lot of things and there are some deeper issues at work than just photos and likes on Facebook.

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