Ah, the “A4 Challenge,” another one of China’s popular and spectacularly unhealthy ways to “prove” your fitness level; just take a piece of A4 paper and hold it up to your waist and if your tummy isn’t visible from either side, you’re a winner! It’s science guys, we swear.
The challenge took off on Weibo last week and since then it has spread out of control, even to the country’s law enforcement with police deciding to take it as a golden opportunity to give out handy anti-fraud tips. Never mind the dangerously unhealthy body image that’s being spread around everyone, nope, just make sure you save your money, folks!
But did police use their own “super healthy” models to take up the challenge? Nope, they did it the modern way, by taking the already uploaded photos of celebrities attempting the challenge and through the magic of photoshop added their anti-fraud tips. Ta daaa:
Actress Qi Wei clearly agrees that “Verification codes should not be given to others, even to your parents!” Good thinking, Qi Wei!
And actor Guo Jingfei shows off his waist with a message reading: “An incoming call that doesn’t display the number? — Do not answer it.” Wise advice Jing, wise advice.
Actress Yuan Shanshan advises you to keep things private and “Never talk about bank card numbers, bank accounts and PIN codes!” Thanks Shan.
And the list goes on! But obviously, the trend has also faced some serious backlash for being completely ridiculous and for using idiotic methods to define health, while also being insulting and objectifying towards women. Protests from overseas have even been widely shared on Chinese social media:
“#A4Waist Nailed it! By the way, as a dad raising 4 kids (2 girls), can we stop the ignorant body image stuff now?” said @WeatherChambers
“Does this degree make me look fat?” asked @RuthlessOnFilm
The trend has indeed raised some questions regarding beauty standards in China, with Xiao Meili — a women’s rights activist who once walked 2000 km from Guangzhou to Beijing to raise awareness of sexual violence against women — labeling the trend as “utterly boring.”
She explained the popularity of these kinds of trends relies on the lack of awareness of gender issues in China.
Standards of beauty are very, very, very uniform, everyone’s very superstitious, talking about what angle cheekbones should be at, how high a nose should be, or how many centimetres there should be between people’s eyes, people think that beauty can be measured.
To fight against this notion, Xiao even tried starting her own viral campaign in the summer of 2014, with the idea that women should post armpit hair selfies to challenge beauty standards; but the idea was unpopular “a bit offbeat and disgusting” in the eyes of the media.
It seems the only silver lining of this trend is that some people have managed to point out how darn silly it is by comparing an A4 sheet of paper to other items of a similar width or simply by photoshopping crappy wordart onto random objects.
“An A4 waist is also a water dispenser waist, spread the word!” the post above reads. And who doesn’t wanna be a water dispenser anyway? At least those things can actually carry volume.
By Kitty Lai
[Images via Weibo / NetEase / The Nanfang]