Body shaming internet ‘challenges'

13News Now Arrianee LeBeau has the story

(WVEC) -- There are internet challenges popping up all the time on social media. From the #MannequinChallenge to the latest craze just in time for Thanksgiving, the #UNameItChallenge.

But there are a few challenges that are spreading countless photos of people, particularly women, measuring how healthy or fit they are by comparing their bodies to objects.


One of the "challenges" encourages people to hold a piece up paper up to their stomachs to obscure their waists and measure how ‘skinny’ or ‘fit’ they are. It’s called the “A4 Paper Challenge.” The pieces of paper measure 8.5X11inch if your waist is completely covered by the piece of paper you complete the challenge. 


Another ‘challenge’ includes showing your legs are no wider than 6 inches at the knees  by measuring them with a smartphone. It’s called the “iPhone 6 Challenge”.

The trend of measuring one's body with objects has been described as ‘sad’ and ‘disturbing’ by Fitness & Wellness Coordinator Lauren Mayes from Old Dominion University.

“It makes me sad that people are comparing themselves to these objects and it's something that’s unrealistic because when you look at that it's not healthy,” said Hayes.

Mayes said these internet challenges shame people’s body’s because they are not a true representation of what one’s body should look like. She said instead of comparing your body to objects you should:

  1. Educate yourself on what’s realistic for your body.
  2. Determine how you feel
  3. Just get moving or doing something active.

Dietician Tracy Conder said body shaming ‘challenges’ can cause people to lose sight of what being healthy really is.

“The ones that actually understand what a healthy body looks like and feels like then they are not quite as sold on these images that show up in the media. They just kind of scroll right on past it and they don’t internalize it,” said Conder.

She said instead of using ‘challenges’ to assess your fitness or health level, you should take into consideration what your own body type is what your frame size.

Gretchen Edwards-Bodmer from Tidewater Community College’s Women's Center said these body shaming challenges can effect one’s self-esteem.

“When you are constantly bombarded with negative messages about your body and about what it should look like it does have a negative effect on your self-esteem. And when your self-confidence is down you don't try for that job that you really want but maybe you are not one hundred percent qualified for,” said Edwards-Bodmer.

She said the pressure to look a certain way is exasperated with social media.

“There were social pressures we felt were in our everyday interactions with other students but now it's ten times that because we constantly are comparing ourselves to others on social media platforms,” said Edwards-Bodmer.

She said instead of comparing your body to what you see in a ‘challenge’ focus on the positive things about yourself like your skills, ambitions and goals.

“Try and stop some of the negative self-talk and help us to appreciate our bodies the way that they are and not what we hope they may be one day. So we can love ourselves and really focus on the things that we are able to do,” said Edwards- Bodmer.


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