If you are not from or around China, you may have never heard of the popular microblogging site, Weibo, similar to twitter or Facebook. Just as any social media site, Weibo is not immune to the evils of trends in body shaming. Like trends such as the thigh gap, Weibo users have created new dangerous standards which they are posting on the site.
The first recent trend that surfaced had women, standing with an 8×10 sheet of paper held up to their waist known as the #A4 waist challenge. On the site you can find many women posing for the camera with the sheet of paper held up to their waist with a grin on their face. Not only does this challenge have no correlation to the health of an individual, it also encourages dangerous eating and life style habits.
The next challenge that emerged on Weibo involves women holding an iPhone 6 above their legs to judge if their legs are thin enough.
According to an interview with Teen Vogue, Benjamin Bedford, MD, says that the size of you knees has no correlation to your overall health.
“The knees are bone and cartilage, and those are fixed size, so there’s not much to do to change the knee’s size,” he said. “Just above the knee cap is the quadriceps muscle, so to get your knees small enough, you’d actually need reduced muscle mass. When you diet excessively, you’d be losing a lot of muscle mass, and not changing the size of the bone. The other muscle groups are used to flex, and if you used exercise to limit your weight, you could limit the tissue, but you’d still have the same size knee. So to shrink a knee, you’d literally need to fast, in an unhealthy way.”
These challenges are not just meaningless, they can be harmful, especially to young users of social media who are less able to distinguish when ideals are unrealistic and unobtainable. Weibo user’s new craze over conforming to an unhealthy standard contributes to the destructiveness of #Thinspiration, pro-anorexia, and pro-bulimia communities. The most important thing we can do is demand the regulation of these types of posts from social media and more importantly educate ourselves and children that these messages are not only unrealistic but dangerous.