Thin is in, but the latest social media craze may have crossed the line.
People all over the world are taking the “Belly Button Challenge” to see if they’re at a “healthy” weight — but experts say being able to touch your navel by reaching your hand around you back doesn’t promote healthy living.
“People (may make) perfectionistic comparisons — such as ‘She can do it and I can’t!’ — which incites even more stress in people’s lives,” said Elizabeth Lombardo, a clinical psychiatrist in Chicago.
“Some may develop a negative self-image, such as ‘My body sucks’ or ‘I am such a fat loser,’” added Lombardo.
But still, the phenomenon is taking off.
It became popular a week ago when Chinese women began posting their victorious pics on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
Since then, the hashtag #BellyButtonChallenge has gone viral, with more than 130 million posts.
The challenge has gotten so big that it now even has its detractors. An overweight user of Weibo posted a photo of himself doing the challenge — only to reveal that he had hidden a friend behind his back to provide the extra arm. He dubbed himself “Game Terminator.”
It’s unclear why it started — though some claim there is a U.S. study indicating that being able to wrap your arm around your back means you’re at a healthy weight.
But no one has found said study.
And unlike the ice bucket challenge — which raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight Lou Gehrig’s Disease in 2014 — the belly button challenge does not appear to have a loftier goal.
On the plus side, the challenge has inspired a more practical trend. #BoobsOverBellyButtons started Monday to raise awareness of breast checkups — “rather than doing these ridiculous body-shaming (and downright painful) demonstrations,” the trend starter, Curvy Kate, a British lingerie designer, posted on Twitter.