A deluge of black-and-white selfies has probably flooded your Instagram feed in recent days. The driving force is a new Instagram challenge that's ostensibly all about "women supporting women," conveniently dubbed #ChallengeAccepted. However, the real meaning behind the challenge is more somber than it may seem.
For the women involved, the idea is to post a color-free photo of yourself, and then tag other women who you want to uplift to do the same. The hashtag currently has around 4.5 million posts on the platform, with celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, Gabrielle Union, Jennifer Aniston, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Eva Longoria propelling the challenge into the latest social media fad with their own languid selfies.
Challenge accepted @vanessabryant @mrsmiawright @candaceparker @iamaprilwatkins @lex_a_s I ♥️ you amazing ladies!!! Lets keep this going and make sure you acknowledge, support and protect the women that need it most. Sending so much 🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤 #WeAllWeGot
A post shared by Gabrielle Union-Wade (@gabunion) on Jul 26, 2020 at 7:53pm PDT
But, Instagram user @beelzeboobz revealed that the challenge originated in Turkey in order to raise awareness about the high rates of femicide in the country. "Turkish people wake up every day to see a black and white photo of a woman who has been murdered on their Instagram feed, on their newspapers, on their TV screens," the post reads. "The black and white photo challenge started as a way for women to raise their voice. To stand in solidarity with the women we have lost. To show that one day, it could be their picture that is plastered across news outlets with a black and white filter on top."
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
A post shared by Manic Pixie Dream Boy (@beelzeboobz) on Jul 28, 2020 at 5:13am PDT
Some have additionally speculated that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's recent speech in the House of Representatives—in which she lambasted fellow Representative Ted Yoho of Florida for calling her a "fucking bitch" on the steps of the U.S. Capitol—may have lent a hand to the popularity of the feel-good feminist pursuit, until it eventually lost its original meaning.
Cristine Abram, a public relations and influencer marketing manager for Later, a social media marketing firm, told writer Taylor Lorenz for the The New York Times, "That was the spark that led to the resurgence of the hashtag challenge. It's all to do with female empowerment. There was this hashtag that already existed to raise awareness around other large issues. Tapping into that allowed participants to gain traction a lot faster because the algorithm was already familiar with the hashtag."
A post shared by Jennifer Lopez (@jlo) on Jul 27, 2020 at 3:58pm PDT
Still, some also criticized the challenge's warped evolution, from raising awareness about femicide to "women supporting women," as a seemingly toothless approach to feminism. 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."
Alana Levinson, deputy editor of MEL Magazine, tweeted a screenshot of Ivanka Trump's #ChallengeAccepted Instagram post, showing the limits of vague grandstanding and social media crusades.
To all the women mad at me for pointing out how vapid the challenge was: come get your gurl pic.twitter.com/TuHdnjmPJc
— 𝔄𝔩𝔞𝔫𝔞 ℌ𝔬𝔭𝔢 𝔏𝔢𝔳𝔦𝔫𝔰𝔬𝔫 (@alanalevinson) July 28, 2020
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