Now comes the Belly Button Challenge: attempting to reach around one’s back and touch one’s belly button to prove one is svelte enough to do so. The trend has exploded on Chinese social media — and been criticized by those who point out it promotes unhealthy ideas about body image.
“A successful attempt is met with praise and affirmation, under the pretense that the challenge is a test of health and fitness,” James Hamblin of the Atlantic wrote in “Don’t Try the Belly Button Challenge.” “You are thin enough to reach around yourself, so you must be okay. An unsuccessful attempt is met with quiet inward shame.”
The challenge, it was said, not only proved triggering to those battling eating disorders who seek “thinspiration,” but also did not prove good health.
“It’s actually a test of shoulder flexibility, not fitness,” Hamblin wrote. “The shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body. If you’re looking to impress people, how about telling them that fact?”
So: Though the Daily Mail wrote that the challenge was the No. 1 trending topic on Weibo — that’s Chinese Twitter — Westerners were frowning.
“I find it infuriating every time one of these idiotic trends pops ups, but the fact that millions of people fall for them and let them impact the way they feel about themselves makes me incredibly sad,” Marci Warhaft-Nadler wrote at the Huffington Post. “What scares me is the fact that a lot of people don’t realize just how dangerous these fads can be for anyone battling an eating disorder and how many people that actually is.”
Wrap your arm around your back and touch your belly button — or try to — at your own risk.