#ChallengeAccepted – sorry, what challenge, exactly?
The past few months have seen a number of so-called ‘challenges’, with people posting photos for 10 consecutive days about parenthood / friends / travel / whatever else catches their fancy.
People are tagged, things are posted, and the cycle continues, because as the lockdown has restricted our ability to post pictures of ourselves standing in front of things, so must we find new and creative ways to gather likes.
(Side note – if you get tagged and you don’t post, does it work like the chain emails from back in the day, with 10 years of bad luck? Or is it like breaking a mirror and seven years of bad luck?)
This week, it’s all about posting a black and white selfie with the hashtag #ChallengeAccepted, and a quote about empowering women.
Or, as an Instagram spokesperson put it, the hashtag is “meant to celebrate strength, spread love, and remind all women that supporting each other is everything”.
Yup, that’s a cause we can all get behind.
Not that everyone is convinced of the supportive and altruistic nature of the hashtag’s success, which at the time of writing has well in excess of five million posts on Instagram alone.
As an example, here’s The Cut:
According to most dictionaries, the word challenge indicates a difficult, complex task or situation to be conquered; a charged invitation to action; or a rejoinder to someone’s argument.
According to the informal tenets of social media, however, the word challenge typically means “posting a photo of yourself in a certain context, oftentimes for an ostensibly good cause, ideally looking attractive.”
Or, put another way:
I literally cannot get over challenge accepted, here’s a hot photo of myself because I support women
— Caroline Moss (@CarolineMoss) July 28, 2020
We’ll come back to the above in a bit, but let’s focus on where the hashtag started.
There are multiple different claims, but one that has been widely shared pertains to efforts to raise awareness around femicide in Turkey.
This account lays out the how and why:
View this post on Instagram
I have received several requests that wanted me to share this as a post as well. So here goes. I hope this will be able to inform people as to what is going on in Turkey and why the black and white photo challenge exists. Thank you all for sharing this information. #blackandwhite #challengeaccepted #womensupportingwomen #mensupportingwomen #istanbulanlaşmasıyaşatır #blackandwhitechallenge #istanbulsözleşmesiyaşatır
In a South African context, where femicide and gender-based violence have tragically become a daily part of simply existing, that’s all the more pertinent.
#ChallengeAccepted was also a popular hashtag back in 2016, centred around efforts to raise awareness for cancer, although the current ‘spike’ in posts can be traced to a post by Brazilian journalist Ana Paula Padrão from 11 days ago.
Others have speculated that it may have become increasingly popular after the inspiring speech by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in response to being called a “f*cking bitch” by a male colleague.
Again, all noble causes, but what actual, tangible, impact does this have? This from Harper’s BAZAAR:
Ali Segel, cohost of the podcast Web Crawlers, wrote on Twitter, “I challenge everyone who has posted a black and white photo to post a screenshot of the organization or charity they’ve donated to that actually supports women. Thanks!”
She later added, “Im just saying… as women…could we possibly…equate empowerment….and solidarity…with more….than a selfie…..that is all.”
Hashtags and posts – cool. Meaningful action – better.
Cosmo has a few suggestions:
So, instead of posting pictures of yourself, which we can all do literally any time because it is Instagram after all, consider this: Post a photo and a bio of women who inspire you, post and tag women-owned businesses, celebrate trans women and share resources that will help curb the violence systemically carried out against them, post GoFundMes for women in need, or post organizations that are committed to uplifting and supporting women beyond Instagram.
You can still post your smouldering selfie, and get that dopamine hit as the likes roll in, but perhaps it’s worth considering ways you can really make your actions count.
But hey, you do you, and show support to other women however you see fit.
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