This Social Media Beauty Challenge Is Trending for the Worst Possible Reason

March 17th 2016

Taylor Bell

A social media challenge that rewards women for having especially small waists is facing an intense backlash from users who say they're sick of seeing certain body types glorified at the expense of others.

As part of the #A4WaistChallenge, women post pictures of themselves holding a piece of A4 printer paper in front of their waist. The apparent idea is that if your waist is smaller than the size of the paper, you have proved you have a "sexy," trim waistline.

According to Mashable, the challenge first began in China sometime around February when a number of Asian women began posting pictures of themselves with the hashtag on the Chinese social media service Weibo.


A photo posted by Ruan (@ryz.jr) on


A photo posted by 隽 (@jamiejunlove) on


A photo posted by Dancology (@li.dong117) on


A photo posted by Raïsa (@amilasiar) on

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given growing awareness about the body-positivity movement, social media users have been pushing back against the #A4WaistChallenge hashtag for promoting unrealistic, and potentially dangerous, beauty standards.


The #A4WaistChallenge comes at time when traditional beauty industry standards have been tested by plus-size model Ashley Graham, who graced the cover of Sports Illustrated earlier this year, and American Eagle Outfitters, who recently embraced body diversity with their popular #AerieReal campaign.

The internet is no stranger to beauty challenges that backfire.

The #A4WaistChallenge joins the list of social media challenges that have failed when it comes to recognizing growing body acceptance movements. For example, the #UnderBoobChallenge, which began trending in January, required women to post a picture of themselves holding a pen under their breasts. As ATTN: previously reported, the hashtag was criticized for shaming those with smaller breasts.


A photo posted by Dandan Chen (@dandan23_china) on

Then there was the viral #CollarboneChallenge which required women to post a picture of themselves balancing coins on their collarbone. The idea being that if you could successfully do so, you would be considered skinny.

Claire Mysko, program director for the National Eating Disorders Association, talked about the negative impact of social media beauty challenges on women's self-esteem in an interview with ABC last year.

“This social media challenge is dangerous because it stokes comparison and fuels insecurity, especially for people who struggle with disordered eating and poor body image," Mysko told ABC. "NEDA promotes social media challenges that promote body positivity and encourage self-acceptance.”