Most days, a scroll through my Instagram feed means seeing a collection of perfectly curated, filtered images—so it’s been surprising to see photos of women sporting messy, smudged lipstick on the platform lately instead. The trend is actually a social media reaction to the recent news that as many as one-third of women are too embarassed to have a potentially life-saving pap smear.
This stat comes from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, a charity that surveyed over 2,000 British women between the ages of 25 and 35 for the survey. The women cited factors such as embarassment over the appearance of their vulva or fear of stripping down in front of a medical professional as some of the reasons to avoid getting a pep smear. The problem: By choosing to forego this important test, women risk not being diagnosed with cervical cancer, one of the most common forms of cancer in young women. In the United Kingdom, 220,000 women are diagnosed with the disease every year, according to the charity.
As a way to raise awareness, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust launched their #SmearForSmear campaign to encourage women to grab their lipstick and smear it, then book an appointment with their ob-gyn for their annual pap smear. The campaign officially runs this week for Cervical Cancer Prevention Week in the United Kingdom (it’s also Cervical Cancer Prevention Month in the United States).
“We want every woman to know that smear tests can prevent cervical cancer,” the organization writes on their website. “Share your #SmearForSmear and help us reach as many women as possible with a message about the importance of smear tests. Your post might be the reminder or encouragement someone needs to go for their smear test, it could save a life.”
A few famous faces have already participated in the campaign, including Suki Waterhouse and Sophie and Caroline Stanbury (of Ladies of London TV show fame). They’re also taking the challenge a step further by nominating other women to participate, too. The best part? We’ve even spotted some men rising to the occasion in the name of empowering young women to take control of their health. So swipe on your favorite lipstick and show your support!