A4 Paper Challenge

The A4 Paper Challenge is just another example of body shaming.

There's a new trend called the “paper challenge” which has been blowing up online.

The paper challenge started on Weibo, China’s version of Facebook and Twitter. The challenge instructs women to hold up a piece of A4 computer paper in front of their waists. The challenge is considered ‘successful’ if the paper is able to cover their mid-section completely.

Women have been posting their picture with the piece of paper on social media sites, with the hashtag #A4Challenge.


The piece of paper is only 8.27 inches wide, and is a completely unrealistic body standard. In 2012, the average U.S. woman’s waist size was 37.8 inches. This means that the A4 sheet is less than a quarter of the size of the average American woman's waist. In China, the average woman's waist size is 27.953 inches. Chinese women are often held to a standard of having thin waists, and this challenge is just one of many that promotes this ideal.  

Similiar to the A4 challenge, the #UnderboobChallenge also originated in China. This challenge asks women to stick pens under their breasts to see if the pencil will stay. The challenge states that you are a real women if your breasts are big enough to hold the pens. There was much backlash to this challenge because it implied that big breasts are the ideal body standard in a world where there is already much small boob shaming.

The Belly Button Challenge requires the participant to to reach around their back and touch their belly button. You ‘win’ this challenge if you are able to successfully touch your belly button. The challenge says that if you can touch your belly button thenn you are skinny. Backlash with this challenge came from detractors saying that being able to reach your belly button has nothing to do with thinness and more so to do with flexibility. After the backlash, People’s Daily, a newspaper in China, tweeted about the challenge, saying that it was a fitness challenge.

However, being thin has nothing to do with your overall health. These challenges are just some examples of how women are constantly and perpetually being shamed for their bodies. It seems that every few months a new challenge comes out that focuses on a different part of a woman's body, but each challenge creates this ideal body standard that is very unrealistic for some.

Thankfully, people have noticed how ridiculous the challenge is and have posted parodies on social media and more body positive images.


But still, there have been over 40,000 posts that take the challenge seriously. Specifically for the A4 Paper Challenge, women need to have a waist circumference of sixty-three centimeters to pass the test (a size zero is typically sixty-four centimeters).

This challenge is just an example of how unrealistic body standards and body shaming are so prevalent in our world today. With social media there for people to take advantage of, it’s hard to avoid these challenges.

Our society needs to learn that what your body looks like is not and never will be equivalent to beauty, as these challenges try to suggest. Furthermore, beauty and thinness are not the most important qualities a woman can have.