Social media challenges periodically take over our feeds, some leaving us feeling empowered and determined and some leaving us annoyed. Whether it is an ALS ice bucket contest or obtaining Kylie Jenner’s pout via suctioning glass, social media challenges are usually viral but short lived. The newest challenge is causing quite the media stir and instead of leaving followers feeling simply determined or annoyed, it is causing legitimate concern.

The latest trend, #A4waist, involves females (and some males) demonstrating how thin their waists are by covering it up with an A4 sheet paper. If concern didn’t jump out at you immediately, maybe knowing the width of this standard sized paper will.

An A4 piece of paper measures the width of 21 cm (8.3 inches). Yikes! Luckily the latest social media phenomenon has yet to be viral (and hopefully won’t) in North America, but has recently been trending in China. This new challenge originated via Weibo (China’s social media medium) this past February and thankfully immediately caused backlash in the media.

What is the main concern of #A4waist, other than the obvious unattainable body measurements this new phenomenon implies? A challenge is defined as a contest or competition that usually involves dual members. Due to the fact that an incredibly small amount of females would have such small measurements naturally, others are likely taking extreme measures in order to ‘win.’ For many, in order to attain an #A4waist, extreme and unhealthy behaviors may be used, including restriction of food, excessive exercise, taking laxatives and diuretics (water pills). Additionally, like all images uploaded on social media, the higher the number of ‘likes’ it produces the more ‘successful’ the post. What alarming message does this a send a young girl? This challenge implies that popularity and acceptance can be attained by means contrary to what’s healthy for one’s own unique body shape.

 What alarming message does this a send a young girl? This challenge implies that popularity and acceptance can be attained by means contrary to what’s healthy for one’s own unique body shape.

In addition to the legitimate backlash this challenge has evoked, what else can we do to help prevent this phenomenon from becoming viral here in North America? Let’s continue to re-define beauty – showing that it’s something bigger than just our physical measurements — and demonstrate to our daughters, nieces and younger sisters that what makes us beautiful is our inner beauty. Next time we feel the urge to start or engage in a trending social media competition, compete with yourself by challenging your work ethic, your volunteer hours or working towards your latest goals.

How do you take a stand against these kinds of social media challenges?

Image via Monica Outcalt



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