Some Social Media Is Paper Thin

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By Madison McQueen

The Chinese have always concocted creative ways to showcase their women’s figures. Last November they adapted the belly button challenge into the breast grabbing challenge in which women would wrap their arms behind their backs in an attempt to reach for the side of their breast. Only a few participants could accomplish the ultimate goal, which is to hold the tip of the breast. This is believed to prove how athletic and shapely the participating women are.Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 12.46.22 PM

The newest Chinese social media trend to sweep the country’s youths and enrage onlookers in the #A4WaistChallenge. For this challenge women are pressured to hold a size A4 piece of paper (average letter size) vertically to their waists. The goal is for the women’s waists to be smaller or the same size as the paper they hold against them. If they succeed they are happy to call themselves “paper thin.”Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 12.42.23 PM

The troubling aspect of this social trend is that many of the participants believe women’s waists are meant to be this small and some even call it healthy.

Many foreign onlookers condemn the challenge as unrealistic and spreading unhealthy fitness goals for women. They have taken to Twitter to parody and foresake the challenge with pictures of A4 sized paper held up to their waists horizontally or, in one case, an open newspaper in front of them.Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 12.29.06 PM

Unfortunately, as with the breast grabbing challenge, the harsh criticisms of health and sarcastic portrayals of body image will do nothing to stem the tide of idealizing unrealistic body images on social media. New trends and challenges are certain to pop up almost as certain as the sun will rise tomorrow. We can only hope that sooner or later these women participating in and spreading challenges such as these will one day choose to use social media to empower themselves as people and not merely as sexual objects to be gawked at.


“#A4WaistChallenge.” Twitter. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2016.

“In China, Women Are Putting Themselves Through The A4 Waist Challenge & Everything Is Wrong With It.” VagaBomb. N.p., 16 Mar. 2016. Web. 27 Mar. 2016.

“The Terrifying Horribleness of the Belly Button Challenge.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2016.

“Watch: A4 Waist Challenge Is Going Viral on Social Media.” N.p., 16 Mar. 2016. Web. 27 Mar. 2016.

“Why Chinese Women Are Grabbing Their Boobs in the Name of Fitness.” NextShark. N.p., 30 Nov. 2015. Web. 27 Mar. 2016.


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