Cancer society made up as ‘no make up selfies’ boost coffers

The #No MakeupSelfie phenomenon will generate at least €1m for charity

Amanda Brunker poses make-up free

Amanda Brunker poses make-up free


The social media phenomenon of people taking photographs of themselves and donating by text to cancer charities looks like boosting significantly the amount of money raised by the Irish Cancer Society whose main annual fundraiser, Daffodil Day, took place yesterday.

Up and down the country, thousands of volunteers collected money in the traditional way, taking in funds in exchange for daffodil badges, sometimes real flowers, often accompanied by a dollop of jovial high jinks.

Primary school children were frequently at the centre of fundraising efforts in their communities. In Newcastle, Co Dublin, pupils of one school built a huge daffodil. In Bealnamorrive, Co Cork, an enterprising woman ran an 11-hour coffee “morning”. A swarm of yellow balloons was launched skyward from the Dell campus in Limerick. Dublin’s Grafton Street was blitzed by what the society said were “stormtroop” sellers.

It was too early last night to say if the society’s target of €3.5 million would be met but initial indications were that money was rolling in close to the 2012 rate – far better than last year when bad weather ruined the day. The society needs €20 million a year to fund research and maintain services.

But Daffodil Day funds will this year be boosted significantly by at least €1 million from a separate source – the expected total from the tide of €4 donations associated with the #No MakeupSelfie phenomenon.

Since early last week, women have been taking smartphone photos of themselves without makeup and posting the images on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and simultaneously donating €4 to the society by texting the word PINK to 50300.

The phenomenon appears to have begun with Hollywood personalities, notably talkshow host Ellen DeGeneres, taking photos of themselves at the Oscar ceremony and posting them online. At the Oscars, 81-year- old former heart-throb Kim Novak appeared on stage looking all of her years but unnaturally stiff in the face. Online there was an immediate torrent of unflattering comment alleging excessive plastic surgery.

Then Laura Lippman, a Baltimore-based former journalist and fiction writer tweeted a photo of herself without makeup, suggesting that if women never saw online pictures of women without makeup, they too would continue to feel pressurised to have plastic surgery.

Reaction to this metamorphosed in several countries – how is not known – into the #nomakeupselfie phenomenon on Twitter and elsewhere. Equally unknown is how, and why, contributors to the growing blizzard of self-taken pictures began to associate their actions with charity donations.

Yesterday, Jennie Ridyard, the Dublin-based, South African-born, self-described “journalist, daydreamer, valued supporter of the wine industry” tweeted praise of Lippman, saying she had started the phenomenon. Lippman replied: “Truly reluctant to take credit. Could be wild coincidence. But let’s credit Kim Novak!”

Early last week, LIKECHARITY, which collects online donations for the society began to notice a surge in funds coming in. By Wednesday, March 19th, €100,000 had arrived, which grew to €400,000 by Friday.

“By Tuesday of this week, we had €1 million,” Kathleen O’Meara, head of communications at the society, said yesterday. “It has tapered off and effectively stopped now, although today, people have started putting up ‘daffies’– pictures of themselves with daffodils– and texting DAFF to the same number – 50300.”

A final tally of about €1.1 million is expected but the phenomenon may not be over. “Men have started to do it as well but . . . they’re wearing make up!” said Ms O’Meara.

Leading the way yesterday was Newstalk FM’s Ivan Yates, looking slightly tarty on the station’s website. Now, #makeupselfiefortheguys has been let loose on Twitter.