But when a viral internet challenge promotes unrealistic beauty standards, it’s time to hit the brakes.
Dazed Beauty published a story on Feb. 19 about the “Earphones Waist Challenge” that’s become popular on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. It involves people tying their earphone cords around their waist to highlight how tiny it is. Toutiaoxinwen, a news account on Weibo, said in a post that the challenge is meant to “see how much weight you’ve gained while lazing around at home.” It’s basically a measuring challenge to see how many rounds your earphone cords can go around a waist to prove that it’s thin.
This isn’t the first time a “thinness challenge” became viral. In 2015, there was the Collarbone Challenge where women placed several coins on their clavicle. A year later, women started measuring their waists using A4 paper and also did the iPhone Knee Challenge to see if their legs were “skinny enough.”
You can argue that Earphone Waist is just an innocent challenge and people shouldn’t take it seriously. However, people will end up comparing themselves to others. They’ll feel like if they don’t succeed in the challenge, then it reflects badly on their bodies not being “thin enough.” Dazed Beauty noted that there are already people expressing how envious they were of the others’ waists.Likewise, it also shames people who don’t have the body type to do the challenges “right.”
Challenges like this promote the idea that being skinny or muscular is the only body type people strive for, which might cause them to do extreme measures to achieve it. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), mass media and social media can contribute greatly to how men and women view their bodies because of the portrayal of the “thin ideal,” which is linked to body dissatisfaction and disordered eating.
NEDA also cited a 2010 study that found 69 percent of American elementary school girls are influenced by magazines on what the ideal body shape should be. While 47 percent said the pictures they saw made them want to lose weight.
The fact that pre-teen girls are already thinking about losing weight to look a certain way is troublesome. This is why they need to be taught body neutrality at a young age so they don’t associate being fat with ugliness and unhealthiness.
The reality is that people have different body types and they shouldn’t be defined by them. What matters is keeping the body you have healthy and not focus on shedding weight to appease society’s unrealistic beauty standards. The world still has a long way to go when it comes to body acceptance, but not supporting viral online measuring challenges is one step towards achieving that goal.
One last thing: Don’t waste perfectly good earphones for something superficial.