Will You Bravely Take a Lipstick-Smeared Selfie to Support Pap Smears?

In Depth

So I’m not some kind of animal here to argue with the idea that there are women out there who need to be more regularly screened for cervical cancer. These statistics are from England, but so is the related bullshit (at least so far, but it threatens to spread!). At any rate, here are the numbers: in England, about a million women are delayed on their pap smears, and cervical cancer is increasing in women under 35.

I myself am very good about this. I might not GET A PAP SMEAR every fifteen minutes like some doctors recommend (in addition to some people never getting pap smears apparently others are getting too many) but yeah. Important. Now let’s get to the fun part where we watch people go to great lengths to debase themselves in the name of “a good cause” or, women taking selfies with smeared lipstick to remind other women to get pap smears.

Via Elle:

The always-gorgeous Georgia May Jagger had us doing a double-take this morning when she appeared on Instagram with her lipstick smudged quite out of place. It turns out, however, that this was no makeup faux pas—in fact, you might be seeing a lot more smeared lippy on your social media feeds over the next several days.
[T]his snap is part of a new social media campaign with U.K.-based Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust called #SmearForSmear—which, much like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the #FeelingNuts campaign for prostate cancer—is part of an important cause. Jo’s created the campaign to encourage women to get regular Pap smears, which are far and away the easiest way to prevent cervical cancer—and yet, as Jo’s chief executive, Robert Music, noted in a statement to ELLE.com, fewer women are getting screened each year. “If we can just save one life with this campaign, then we have achieved a great deal,” he said.

Jagger nominated Suki Waterhouse, Cara Delevingne and @jasminebydesign to be the next women to take the incredibly brave and cool step of going #SmearForSmear.

A smear of lipstick. A pap smear. A smear of lipstick. A pap smear.

(I love saying them over and over together like that: it reminds me, in both spirit and tone, of a photo in my college yearbook of a classmate of mine standing next to her father, who had GRADUATED FROM THE SAME COLLEGE, in which they were both wearing their mortarboards and beaming with what I though seemed rather excessive pride, and underneath them a caption proclaimed “GRAND GRAD GRAD DAD” a phrase I found so winning I said nothing else for nearly a month.)

A smear of lipstick. A pap smear. A smear of lipstick. A pap smear. A smear of lipstick. A pap smear. A smear of lipstick. A pap smear. A smear of lipstick. A pap smear. A smear of lipstick. A pap smear.

So what if one of them is about being sexy, disheveled, slightly edgy, very below 14th Street back when Such Things Mattered, and Desperately Seeking Susan clones roamed the earth, and the other one is about going to a doctor and spreading your legs and that unpleasant gag inducing feeling of having a dry q-tip acquaint itself with your unenthusiastic cervix to see if you are either at risk of or even already have a horrible disease that has a 30 percent chance of killing you?

A smear of lipstick. A pap smear. A smear of lipstick. A pap smear.

It is the literally just the coolest idea. Because that horrible disease that might kill you, that killed 4,000 American women in the 2014, and of which there were about 12,000 new cases ORIGINATES near a part of your body that has LIPS and you also put lipstick on your OTHER lips. And you can SMEAR THE LIPSTICK you put on your lips. Do you GET IT?

Well, you can’t really fault Georgia Jagger and her friends for trying. After all, in a world where we’ve been told to check our melons and save our tatas and protect the girls, what’s another bit of cloying anti-cleverness? And, since Georgia is Mick’s daughter, really, how can you NOT bring lips into this, how could anyone resist a social media marketing opportunity using lips made out of Mick Jagger DNA and a smear in their vicinity to remind women to get a smear (a PAP smear!) in the region of their own lips?

God, it just makes me miss that card people used to have hanging up in their showers that would remind you to check your breasts for lumps, which, apparently, isn’t even a good idea anymore? If that was still in vogue, maybe the generic woman drawing on that card could have a little cartoon bubble above her head saying “Oh, also, please get a PAP smear, even though they suck.” Doesn’t that sound so much classier? But no. Ever since Apple taught us to all be rebels every moment is an opportunity for meaningful performance. We run in tutus for cancer. We go braless for cancer. We take bare-faced selfies when we’ve just woken up to wake people up to the plight of Syrian children. (Waking up. Wake people up to the Syrian children. Etc.)

Lord in heaven please save the well-meaning Westerners from their metaphors and word games. Teach them instead how to mail charities large checks or to just go to the doctor every time their think about uploading another photo of themselves to Instagram.

I am going to go apply lipstick carefully and sensually to my lips and then smear it and upload that photo to Instagram and Snapchat and Craigslist and Vine and Facebook. Then I am going to go find a beaver dam, and first, I’m going to make sure there are no actual beavers home, THEN I’m going to dump ten boxes of those special long doctor Q-Tips on it and a couple of sterilized speculums and some KY and I’m going to see if my gynecologist wants to sit on top of it then I’m going to Instagram that shit all like #checkyourbeaverladies!

If I can save just one life, then I will have achieved a great deal.

Sarah Miller writes for theawl.com, newyorker.com, time.com, thecut.com and others. Find her @sarahlovescali.

Image via Instagram.

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