It has finally arrived! The latest in a long line of social media challenges that you need to avoid has reared its ugly head. First came the potentially deadly Cinnamon Challenge, then the misguided Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge, and after that, the religiously offensive Charlie Charlie Challenge. The latest, greatest challenge to hit the web is the Bellybutton Challenge. My advice? Just don’t go there.
Started in China, the bellybutton challenge was touted as a way to determine if you are “slim enough.” Since being posted on Chinese social media on Wednesday, this “thinspiration” trend has been viewed more than 170 million times and thousands of users have already uploaded pictures of themselves undertaking the challenge. And, before you ask, it is just as ridiculous and unachievable as it sounds. According to Louise Adams, clinical psychologist and the founder of the Sydney practice, Treat Yourself Well, people should take a stand and refuse to participate. She says “The only way we can stop this tidal wave of negative stuff is to turn away from it, and actually see it for what it is. This is not inspiration. This is damaging.” People participating in this challenge are doing a “body image disservice to themselves” and displaying “eating-disordered thinking.”
First of all, reaching your arm behind you and around your waist to touch your navel is not a scientific method of determining a healthy weight so don’t fall for it. Reaching your bellybutton in this manner requires long arms and flexibility in addition to a slim waist. That means that some slender individuals may not have long enough arms or enough flexibility to complete the act. In addition, having a slim waist is not a true indicator of health. I have known many people with a small waist but poor overall health just as I have known others with a larger frame and excellent health.
Second, this challenge ‘requires’ that the participant post a photo of their attempt to social media which opens the individual up to unhealthy criticism from complete strangers. Taking part in this challenge exposes participants to potentially cruel body image judgment. Not only will waist size, arm length, and flexibility be judged but other criticisms could follow. The photos already posted have been receiving comments on the participants weight, muscle tone, and stretch marks. Some people have received nasty comments on scars from past surgeries or accidents. While weight, body tone, stretch marks and scars are nothing to be ashamed of, social media trolls will say hurtful, harmful things for their own personal amusement.
So, when you are faced with your first emailed, posted, or tweeted challenge, remember what Admiral Ackbar said in Return of the Jedi, “It’s a trap!” This challenge is just another one of those viral examples of unattainable beauty standards that are emotionally affecting impressionable people. Choose to ignore this challenge and be part of the solution by refusing to comment, forward, or view these postings. Hopefully, the people participating in this challenge will wise up to the negative impact this challenge could have and choose to end it before it gets out of hand.