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Enough with the Social Media Body Challenges

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Minnesota chapter.

The Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge, the A4 Waist Challenge and the Belly Button Challenge, just to name a few of the many different body challenges on social media today, and it seems there will only be more to come. Why are we so obsessed with these challenges? They only continue to exist because we keep trying them. Why do we think that being able to successfully perform these challenges, proves we’re beautiful or desirable?

A4 Waist Challenge

For those of you who don’t know what this challenge is, it’s when a woman holds a piece of printer paper (A4) to her waist.  The goal is for the woman’s waist to be smaller or the same width as the piece of paper. Supposedly, if you’re successful, it means you have the ideal waist size, meaning you’re somehow considered more attractive.  According to the Huffington Post, the trend allegedly started on Chinese social media sites but has since gone worldwide. I don’t get it. Why are we comparing waists to pieces of paper? Was someone really bored one day and came up with this idea? We really need to shred this challenge.

Belly Button Challenge

The only thing that’s more ridiculous than the name of the challenge is what it entails. The object of this challenge is to take your arm, reach around your back to the opposite side of your body and try to touch your belly button. Yup. Trying to touch your belly button. Very attractive. If you’re successful, you’re considered to be more attractive because your waist is small enough to be able to accomplish the challenge, even though you’ll pull a couple of muscles in the process. “It’s actually a test of shoulder flexibility, not fitness,” James Hamblin of the Atlantic wrote in “Don’t Try the Belly Button Challenge.” “The shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body. If you’re looking to impress people, how about telling them that fact?” Who comes up with these ridiculous challenges?

The Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge

In case you have no idea who Kylie Jenner is or what her lip challenge consists of, it’s when people put a glass (usually a shot glass) to their lips and suck on it. The ideal outcome is that, once they pull the shot glass off, their lips are fuller and “more attractive,” but they actually turn out the exact opposite. There have been many reports of the challenge going wrong. Emily Orofino of Pop Sugar explained, “After placing their lips on top the shot glass, they suck the air out of the glass, creating friction. However, because the glass isn’t flexible… the shot glass can break under all the pressure, causing serious injuries, requiring stitches to repair.”In one case, the shot glass shattered while a woman was attempting the challenge and shards of the glass got lodged in her lips. Doesn’t that sound like fun? People who attempt the challenge usually get a red ring around their mouth a day or two later because their lips are bruised. You wanted fuller lips to be “more attractive,” now you have bruised your lips and have a nice bright red ring around your mouth. Your lips are perfect the way they are, don’t abuse them.

These challenges are doing nothing to further the acceptance of all body shapes and sizes. We’re actually taking a few steps backward. You’re beautiful just the way you are. In no way, shape or form does being able to successfully complete one or all of these challenges make someone more attractive than someone who cannot. To some, these challenges mean absolutely nothing. But there are so many things wrong with them that people fail to see. Why are they only directed at women? I have seen men attempt do these challenges but as a joke! You know why it’s funny when a guy attempts the challenge? Because it’s meant for a woman to do. Why is it taken so seriously when a woman does it?

“Why don’t women just stop,” some of you might say, but the problem isn’t just these stupid challenges, it’s what they represent.

We, as women, are conditioned and force fed this absolute bullshi*t from birth, that we need to look a certain way and act a certain way. If we don’t conform to what society says we should be, we’re worthless. It’s ingrained in our system to achieve this ideal image that society as conveniently labeled as realistic for women. Then, we get shoved into these boxes of what women are supposed to look like, along with the expectations that further perpetuate unrealistic ideals. Women are not objects to be poked and prodded or shaped and modeled into what society and social media say is beautiful or attractive.

This isn’t a joke. This isn’t something that should be brushed aside or shoved to the back of the line. This is real for many women out there and it needs to be taken seriously. In no way shape or form, does being able to perform these challenges successfully mean anything about your level of beauty or desirableness. If you attempt the challenge and aren’t successful, you’re not alone. 

The first step we need to take is to stop participating in these challenges. If we do that, they’ll become a distant memory in the archived list of questionable trends that were somehow extremely popular like MySpace and mirror selfies. But it’s bigger than just these challenges. We need to change the way society unrealistically portrays women and sets the standard for what women should look like. We can do this by portraying real women in the media. Women of all different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations. It’s now our job to teach society what real women look like and act like.  

Thankfully, many women have posted anti-body challenge posts, some even mocking them because, let’s be honest, they’re ridiculous. You go girls! And to all you who are reading this, you are beautiful, inside and out. Don’t let some stupid challenge make you question your worth.   

Robin is a junior at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities studying Professional Journalism, Studies of Cinema and Media Culture and Communications. She is a huge film, TV and musical theater buff (needless to say she spends too much time binge watching). She is an avid Couponer and money saver with hopes of becoming a Film Critic one day. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/robinrose44 or find her pieces on http://www.hercampus.com/school/minnesota