The A4 Challenge Is The 'Horrifying' Social Media Trend Putting Body Image Pressure On Women

'We should be celebrating diversity.'

17/03/2016 14:14
  • Rachel Moss Lifestyle Writer at The Huffington Post UK

Another day, another ridiculous social media campaign putting undue body image pressure on women

The 'A4 Challenge' encourages women to see if their waists are smaller than an A4 sheet of paper.

"Successful" women then post a selfie with the paper onto social media, along with the hashtag #A4waist. 

Needless to say the concept is laughable. The end image is entirely dependent on perspective and how far away you're holding the sheet of paper from your body.

The trend is reported to have started on Chinese social media site Weibo but unfortunately, it's now gaining global attention elsewhere. 

A photo posted by Azura Ge (@azu_kirara) on

Rivkie Baum, editor of plus size magazine SLiNK, thinks the trend is "horrifying". 

"We already know that young girls spend far too much time on social media and that the influence of social media on their self-esteem is huge," she tells The Huffington Post UK.

"The A4 challenge does nothing to promote health and fitness but instead encourages young girls to evaluate themselves by their measurements and appearance. 

"Being the size of an A4 piece of paper is not an accurate way to depict or assess health and perhaps it is time for social media to crack down on these types of irreverent campaigns that harm the young women that are so hooked on them."

Rebecca Field, head of communications at eating disorders charity Beat, agrees the trend could have a negative impact on vulnerable women.

"While social media cannot be the sole cause of an eating disorder, body image and low self-esteem are key factors in the development of eating disorders, and social and cultural pressures are strong in this area," she says.

"We should be celebrating diversity – women come in all shapes and sizes – not made to feel we don’t ‘shape up’ by promoting such images. This is another example of how social media can encourage unhealthy messages."

Personally, we like freelance journalist Stevie Martin's response to the challenge.

A photo posted by Stevie Martin (@5teviem) on

Unfortunately this isn't the first time a body-shaming craze has emerged from China.

Last year the 'Belly Button Challenge' encouraged women to reach behind their own back and round their waist in an attempt to touch their belly button.

Then weeks later the 'Collarbone Challenge' encouraged participants to balance coins in their clavicle to test how "skinny" they are. 

Commenting on the latter movement, body image blogger Leyah Shanks told HuffPost UK: "I think this trend is very harmful. It's accentuating the idea that thinner is better and subsequently pushing down every other body type.

"Being able to do this is not what we should be basing our beauty and self worth on.

"I'm not sure why these odd trends keep appearing. I wish that the power of social media would be used to spread body love instead of encouraging dangerous comparisons."

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