The Impact of Social Media Body Challenges on Youths' Body Image
Leonard, Kerrie Caitlin
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Body challenges are an unresearched trend where an individual checks if their body can look a certain way to pass the specific challenge (e.g., the A4 paper challenge; seeing if one’s waist is smaller than an 8x11 vertical piece of paper). We asked 147 girls and gender-expansive youth open-ended questions about trying a body challenge, opinions, and feelings towards their body as a result of these challenges. Qualitative analyses revealed that 79.59% of youth have never tried a body challenge. Youth thought body challenges were negative, with themes of toxic, ridiculous, unhealthy, anti-feminist/social commentary, and the need for body positivity. Also, many youth (50.35%) reported negative feelings towards their bodies as a result of body challenges, with themes of bad, inadequate, insecure/self-conscious, and fat. Many youth felt no impact (34.04%). Understanding body challenges can help create strategies so that youth can be resilient to their harms.