What Is The Paper Waist Challenge? This Dangerous Internet Trend Is Taking Off
If you have eyes and an Internet connection, over the last few days you've probably (and unfortunately) seen pictures of young women posing with a piece of paper over their waists above a "paper waist challenge" hashtag. Oh, what is the paper waist challenge, you ask? Part of you wants to know about the paper waist challenge, but the other part of you can't even. I'll try to cater to both here.
To those who haven't heard of it yet, the paper waist challenge involves women holding up A4 standard pieces of paper to their waist to "prove" their thinness by whether or not the paper conceals their entire midsection. The challenge originated in Asia, was made popular by Chinese women on Weibo, and shared broadly across social media making its way here now.
Unfortunately, this challenge is just another in the variety of popular social media body "challenges" made infamous in the past year. First there was the belly button challenge, the collar bone challenge, the bikini bridge challenge, the underboob pen challenge, and the thigh gap challenge. Aside from the fact that these challenges are not based on any scientific or anatomical merit or study, they're completely arbitrary, and promoting incredibly damaging messages to those who don't "fit" into those arbitrary measurements. By even using the word "challenge," these trends operate under a dangerous and pervasive assumption that the type of body that fits the "challenge" is inherently better or healthier than one that doesn't. The word "challenge" implies that there is something to win, when truly, by perpetuating these unrealistic body standards to all women, every one of these challenge pictures being shared on social media is a loss for us all.
I've talked a lot about the underboob pen challenge and how despite the fact that it's a nonsensical challenge, it was installing a bit of body positivity on the Internet by opening a dialogue for people to respond to it — some of them humorously, others seriously, all of them impacting. The paper waist challenge, however, has left the realm of absurd and is nothing but dangerous.
Just think about how many parents are palming their forehead right now, wondering why they have to explain to their daughter that her waist doesn't need to fit behind a piece of paper in order for her to be beautiful.
Now in case you're not familiar with a lot of the challenges I mentioned, here's a brief summary of each challenge — because who doesn't love a good eye roll in the morning?
The Collarbone Challenge
Can you fit a roll of coins in your collarbone? If so, this "challenge" says you're beautiful. (I say you're beautiful regardless of how much money you can fit on your bones. That's what wallets are for.)
The Bellybutton Challenge
Apparently if you can reach your arm around your back and grab your bellybutton, you're nailing this "beauty standard" ... or you just have really flexible shoulder or long fingers that you happen to be able to contort.
The Thigh Gap Challenge
If you still have a gap between your thighs when you put your feet together, you've "won" the thigh gap challenge. (Ugh.)
The Underboob Pen Challenge
Stick a pen under your boob. If it stays, your boobs are too big to go braless. And on the flip side, I guess if it doesn't stay, you're free to go braless. According to the Internet, that is.
The Bikini Bridge Challenge
If you lay on your back in a bikini and the fabric between your hips doesn't touch your skin, you've "won" the bikini bridge challenge. Now the only challenge we all need to take up is to stop making these stupid challenges in the first place.