Don’t Fall for the Belly Button Challenge! (#bellybuttonchallenge)

thFirst there was #thighgap…now we have the #bellybuttonchallenge to look forward to.

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.

TEEN MONOLOGUE SERIES at Thick House Theatre in SF Aug 9th, 2015!

TEEN MONOLOGUE SERIES: A collection of true stories about real teens struggling  teenage girl Sharing Secret With Friend In Park
with tough issues surrounding self-esteem.

Stories about teens…for teens.

Maybe you know someone like Katie? She is dying to fit in. Literally. A bulimic freshman in high school, she’s drinking and hanging out with the mean girls. Maybe you know someone like her?

Or Cindy. A high school junior who acts like everything is always fine. Playing three sports, getting straight A’s, partying on the weekends, but struggling with depression, perfectionism and addiction.

Seventy-five percent of teenage girls with self-esteem issues (have reported) engaging in negative activities such as: smoking, drinking, bullying, cutting, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, and even suicide attempts. Story telling is a very powerful form of acceptance and self-healing.

Dates: August 9th, 2015

LocationThick House Theatre in SF (Playwright Festival)

Time: 12pm & 2pm

For ticket information click here!

What Childhood Bullying Does To Your Body Image Later In Life

Guest article for Mind, Body, Green.

If you ask most adults if they were bullied as a child and their answer is yes, they can usually tell you their earliest bullying memory in great detail. They can pinpoint the exact day, time, location and who was there.

Why? Because it was a traumatic experience.

For many people, these earliest experiences with bullying typically occur around the 5th grade. Socially, this is the time when boys and girl start to form cliques, become competitive and begin showing interest in the opposite sex. However, this is also the time when many physical changes occur.

Kids get braces, glasses, acne, start developing faster or slower than everyone else in class … anyone can be a prime target for bullying for any reason.

Unfortunately, the effects of bullying can carry over to adulthood. We hold on to labels, to the names we were called. We can play the bullying scenarios over and over in our heads, so much so that we may start believing them again. By adulthood, perfectly proportioned women think they’re too big, too tall, too skinny. This is where body dysmorphia can begin.

Body dysmorphia is a type of chronic mental illness where you can’t stop thinking about a flaw in your appearance — a flaw that is either minor or imagined. Your appearance seems so shameful that you don’t want to be seen by anyone.

Body dysmorphia and memories of teasing and/or bullying can go hand-in-hand. If the bullying experience was traumatic and you were never able to process it and let it go, the effects can linger for years. For example, if you were teased as a child for being “chubby,” those ugly nicknames have a tendency to stick around even though you know you’re not overweight today.

For more from this article, click here.