Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen the “belly button challenge” all over social media. Apparently, it began in China, but has exploded online. So…what is the belly button challenge you ask?
Reach behind your back and around your waist and see if your hand can cover/touch your belly button. For the sake of this blog post, go ahead and try. Can’t do it? Well, then you are considered “too heavy” according to Chinese social media. But really, it could also mean that your arms are really muscular-right? When you come down to it… it’s actually a test of shoulder flexibility, and not fitness. (I learned that the shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body.) The belly button challenge has become a way for teens, mostly girls – to seek approval online with their body while shaming others. It also says a lot about China’s obsession (really everyone’s obsession) with being thin. Teens are snapping #selfies of them-self while doing the challenge and posting them online.
A successful belly button challenge attempt is met with praise, “likes” and affirmations that YOU are thin enough. If deemed thin enough, then you are accepted by the online “belly button” police.
And if you can’t do the challenge, there is a double standard. For a boy posting a photo of himself failing the challenge, he still receives “likes.” Many of those photos will show the boy desperately struggling to reach his belly button while making funny faces, contorting his body and laughing. However, for girls posting their failed attempts online for all the world to see, isn’t met with praise or “likes.” She is telling the world that she is unhealthy…. unworthy, and shameful. This can do a number on anyones body image and self-esteem.
So if you are a teen, don’t fall for this challenge or take it too seriously. Remember, it has nothing to do with health. It’s just another silly social media game to laugh about… and nothing more.