Is The #BellyButtonChallenge The New Thigh Gap?

by Lindsey Rose Black

A social media trend in China revolving around belly buttons is being touted as the "next thigh gap" and could promote scary behaviors among men and women. Reported by BBC, thousands of young Chinese citizens are doing the #BellyButtonChallenge and uploading images on Weibo, a social networking site, to show off how small their waists are. The trending topic has over 130 million mentions on Weibo and continues rising.

So, what do belly buttons have to do with potentially promoting eating disorders? The trend challenge translates to "reaching your belly button from behind to show your good figure," and women shown most effortlessly wrapping their arms behind their back with fingers on belly buttons have the highest numbers of "likes."

For a little personal perspective on why this trend could encourage troubling eating behaviors and body image issues — I'm a healthy 5'4", size zero gal (that does a lot of yoga) and totally cannot do it. Just writing this story, I felt the insecurities creeping in and old eating disorder thought patterns bubble up. Eek.

Fortunately, some Weibo users like blogger Sough Sa are taking this challenge as an opportunity to promote body-positive attitudes. "Is this trend really that difficult? I don't think so," Sough Sa posted to the Weibo community with a picture of him humorously attempting to reach his belly button. Others rallied their support behind his photo, with comments such as "Now you did it! So don't lose weight and please stay the same" and "I always root for the underdog.

Now I don't feel so inadequate about not being able to touch my belly button."

While sharing quirky poses on social can be fun, it's all about the motivation behind a picture. Why should we waste our time posting anything that doesn't celebrate the beautiful diversity of human bodies and how incredible and unique they are? Creating a body-positive internet culture happens one post at a time, and that's the trend I want to be part of.

Image Credit: pasta_meo/Instagram