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The A4 paper challenge, destroying China.

Popularity 22Viewed 9585 times 2016-3-21 13:15 |Personal category:foreign perspective|System category:News| challenge, China

The A4 Paper challenge destroying China! by Sean Boyce 柏笑恩

In the last week or two I have seen the rise of the A4 paper challenge, basically for those who have not seen this, the idea is to be a slim as a piece of A4 paper, apparently this is deemed as a healthy body type. Want I want to talk about today is the truth about the A4 body and the level of brainwashing and stupidity needed for you to believe that this is healthy...

The A4 body challenge is as seen above, her torso can be hidden behind an A4 piece of paper and as a result she is deemed healthy and is praised all over chinese media. This is not the first stupid body image challenge to come out of China, last year we had the belly button challenge where "slim people" could touch their belly button. This however is in fact total rubbish, even fat people can do it. It has nothing to do with weight and is al about flexibility, see the following picture for evidence.



 Now, you may think this looks healthy, she has a nice body and you may also be wondering "why is sean yet again complaining about something like this" If any of these thoughts entered your head...you have been brainwashed (被洗脑了) congratulations!!!!

Lets look at why this is stupid and the damage it does to China:

1. people's body types are different. 

Such body standards are ridiculous as not everyone has the same body type, not everyone is going to be able to pass the A4 challenge. Some women have wider set hips, some have bigger bones; there are a multitude of factors that mean you may not be able to pass this challenge...and who cares? This is NOT HEALTHY in the slightest, it is not a healthy standard to set your lifestyle by. Not eating to achieve this isn't for your own health, don't ever delude yourself into thinking otherwise. If you are starving yourself, you are putting yourself through ridiculous amounts of pain and pressure for OTHER PEOPLE. That basically makes you a slave to society, so brainwashed that you cannot think for yourself and must bow down to the expectations our ridiculous society creates for you. 

2. We see this on the media a lot, it is all fake...

What annoys me is that people begin comparing themselves to girls like fan bingbing, oh she is so beautiful, so slim. 

She is also so false. Do you know how much Photoshop (PS for some of the Chinese readers) goes into making fan bingbing that slim? Lets have a look:


This is one of her modelling photos, now When you see this next photo you will see her face is not this slim.


Fan bingbing is just your average Chinese girl in real life. She is not fantastically beautiful, she is simply pretty. Do you see how much wider her cheeks are in real life? Now if that's just her face, how much PS goes into making her waist slimmer? (I will give you a clue...lots). The Chinese media really has a lot to answer for the psychological damage of Chinese girls in particular. By constantly portraying such false standards as achievable, Chinese girls across the country are taking over the counter medicine and starving themselves. As for this over the counter medicine, they claim it is side effect free (没有副作用) but how much research do you really think went into this product? Do you really know the long term damage of a product that came onto the market a month ago?

3. The damage done to Chinese people psychologically may be irreparable. 

We have a nation of Chinese people growing up believing themselves to be too fat. They believe themselves to be ugly and create this negative body image of themselves which in turn leads to a whole host of psychological issues including depression, anxiety (it's no co-incidence these are on the rise in China). Thankfully there are some Chinese that understand this and are protesting in their own way but their voices are drowned out in the millions of other A***holes posting these pictures online and destroying the good efforts of the feminist movement in China. If you are one of these people posting A4 challenges on your social media, don't start complaining hen your own children grow up depressed, refuse to eat food and are generally miserable due to such negative body images, you are contributing heavily to their psychological damage. By reposting and reiterating such pictures, we force people to compare ourselves to other people and get upset about their own body.

(My body is not for looking at. I love my fat waist)


4. Chinese culture doesn't help

Why, oh why do so many Chinese insist on telling each other and everyone around them they are fat? What do you hope to achieve through this except to make that person feel insecure? You see the girl in the above picture, she was called fat...she is not fat at all. 

See you have to understand the damage done in calling someone fat, fat is a negative word, it is associated with ugly. By calling someone fat, even if the only gained a little weight, you are associating them with ugly. How do you think this will affect someone psychologically? Will it encourage them to lose weight...or repeat the cycle of depression as the try to achieve the unattainable? Calling someone fat is again contributing to this issue. 


Lets look at this scientifically, what constitutes a negative body image? And what are the repercussions? According to research by the national eating disorders association, negative body images can arise from the following:


  • Comments made by family and friends about their bodies and the bodies of others
  • Global ideals regarding the perfect physical appearance
  • The continual comparison of one’s body to others
  • Media exposure to what is an ideal body image versus a normal body
  • Experiences with physical activity
  • Abuse, including sexual, emotional and physical
  • Prejudices against race, religion, ability, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity
  • Pleasure, pain and health experiences

As for the effects of having a negative body image, read the following taken from their site:

Effects of negative body image

Researchers have discovered there is a link between eating disorders and negative body images. Those with a negative image about themselves are more likely to suffer from feelings of isolation and depression. Both of these have been known to trigger obsessions with weight loss, resulting in various forms of eating disorders, including bulimia and anorexia. Both of these can lead to other health-related issues.

A negative body image increases the risk of someone taking extreme measures to achieve the body type they feel they should have. This can lead to over dieting, an obsession with exercising, laxative abuse, smoking, use of drugs and induced vomiting. All of which pose severe threats to one’s overall health images and wellness.

According to the Albert Ellis Institute those who are overly concerned about one or more body areas and have a complete misconception of these areas are commonly diagnosed with a psychological disorder known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). Many of those diagnosed with BDD tend to have only minimal or nonexistent flaws to be worried about. Common areas of concern among those suffering from BDD include flaws involving the face, head, breasts, buttocks, abdomen, hips, thighs and genitals.


So what do we need to do? 

1. If you care about other people in your country and you have posted an A4 challenge picture, please  delete it instantly. This is a cruel comparison you are forcing people to partake in and it does nothing for the psychological health of the Chinese people.

2. Start complementing each other. If your friend has put on some holiday weight...thats ok. You don't need to tell them, I am sure they know themselves. Instead, if you really care about your friends, trying offering a compliment. "That necklace looks very pretty" "You look fantastic". You will see your friend become happier almost instantly. 

3. Stop doing trends just because others are doing it, think for yourself. just because someone does something, doesn't mean you have to. You aren't sheep, you don't walk forward because the sheep in front of you walk forward. Whenever you use something like social media, be aware of the hidden consequences of human repetition, learn to think for yourself. Next time you see some new challenge, try taking a picture mocking the challenge instead and explaining the problems with it. 

4. Finally, if you really care about your health, starving yourself will not improve it, there is only one option. Exercise!!! If you want to get a nice body and be healthy, go for a run. Your older self will thank you for it.


Please feel free to join in the debate and leave comments below. If you wish to share this article please quote my name. 
请你们在下面写你们的想法。文明发表言论,转发注明出处

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)

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Reply Report voice_cd 2016-3-22 08:45
Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted it in our blog homepage.
Reply Report seanboyce88 2016-3-22 09:51
voice_cd: Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted it in our blog homepage.
Thanking you!
Reply Report helenriver 2016-3-22 10:14
A lot of Chinese girls are hijacked by the media concept of a sickly skinny figure. To me it is not beautiful at all. It makes them look like a sick child instead of a healthy woman. I think it is good for people to be against obesity but they should aim for being healthy and strong, not skinny and frail. It's sad that many people, mostly women, still live in other people's opinions, whether it's right or wrong. I feel that the collective mindset is still at work because many people have a uniform value and are afraid to be different from others. Many of the "popular girls" online all look the same. It means that many women are still trying to conform to the aesthetic standards of men and have made these standards their universal value.
Reply Report seanboyce88 2016-3-22 10:20
helenriver: A lot of Chinese girls are hijacked by the media concept of a sickly skinny figure. To me it is not beautiful at all. It makes them look like a sick c ...
I completely agree Helen.

This sickly skinny figure really does look like an ill child rather than a beautiful woman but until something changes, especially within Chinese media it won't change the way people think.

Right now in the west, a lot of countries are trying to stop companies using PS to make the models look better as PS can make people have unobtainable waists, ridiculous skin etc...Once we get PS banned from the media, I think you will start to see a difference. Once people start to see how common people like fan bingbing really look, they will start to think twice.
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-3-22 10:52
Another one batted out of the park: you go, Sean!
Funny how, at one time, corpulence signified wealth and fitness, even/especially in China. These days, heaven forbid a girl should have curves! And this is mainly geared at women, as you've said: society prefers men to be 'built'.
I will be using your article in my class next week, in conjunction with a PPT I made on the same topic. I have mostly freshmen and more girls than boys: THE target audience for this message. Thanks for putting it out there.
Reply Report TedM 2016-3-22 10:58
Several issues here.
I find the Chinese desperate to improve and be the best, but they often attempt to achieve this by accepting any new idea without thinking about it. (see my blog: Jumping on the band wagon)  So these silly ideas about weight and size etc. are more easily accepted here. Women are almost raised to be fanatical about their looks, or they wont find a husband before they are 30! and their friends will gossip. (see also my blog of Selfies that echo your own comments)
However, it is a pity that many women in the UK seem to have little regard to the way they look or care for their health. It always distresses me to see flabby girls with tummys hanging out of their tight trousers when I return to England. In America girls are either skinny to the point of starvation, or extremely fat. I think Chinese girls are some of the most beautiful in the world, but often much too thin for their health.
Reply Report christina_liu 2016-3-22 11:21
Totally agree with you. Health should be the first thing that we consider, not beauty. I often see many young girls wearing less clothes in cold winter to look slim, for me, they are stupid. Many of them would suffer pains in their old age.
Reply Report robert237 2016-3-22 11:44
The British tried to destroy China with two opium wars and all they had to do was come up with the A4 paper challenge.  
Reply Report msrong 2016-3-22 14:23
Someone should translate this into chinese and submit it to chinese websites and weibos of brainwashed actresses bragging about their A4 waists.
Reply Report FernOritiz 2016-3-22 16:24
I am Chinese girl, I guess i can say something around me, at least they are authentic and real.
The girls on campus are less partaking in the A4 waist test. We did talk about it just as a relaxing stuff. The phenomenon is not like what you guys can see from the internet, which is exaggerating. BTW, most of  girls who are talking that they should lose weight but never stoping eating, at least not strave themselves.
But i do agree with some of your opinions, we may be influenced by the other's opinios, for we have long history of collective consciousness, which is not easy to be unique. From my experience, the people may live their own life as their wish when grow up, both in the physical age and mental age, most importantly, mental age.
Anyway, health is more important for all of us.
Reply Report seanboyce88 2016-3-22 18:21
robert237: The British tried to destroy China with two opium wars and all they had to do was come up with the A4 paper challenge.   
That is entirely irrelevant.

Robert, if you do not care about the livelihood of the Chinese people in some way, I suggest you find another platform. I care about the social impact of such trends, if you have nothing to say related to the topic you shall be ignored.
Reply Report seanboyce88 2016-3-22 18:26
teamkrejados: Another one batted out of the park: you go, Sean!
Funny how, at one time, corpulence signified wealth and fitness, even/especially in China. These da ...
I am not so sure about masculinity in china, the number of manbags is way more than back home, less of an alpha male culture which I find ironic considering the level of homophobia. Maybe a topic for another time.

I wish I could see this class though...
Reply Report seanboyce88 2016-3-22 18:27
TedM: Several issues here.
I find the Chinese desperate to improve and be the best, but they often attempt to achieve this by accepting any new idea without ...
Such issues as negative body image being passed on by the media is a world wide phenomenon. My blogs mainly focus on China because I live here but you are right, obesity at the other end of the scale is a worrying trend in the west
Reply Report seanboyce88 2016-3-22 18:28
msrong: Someone should translate this into chinese and submit it to chinese websites and weibos of brainwashed actresses bragging about their A4 waists.
  
Reply Report seanboyce88 2016-3-22 18:29
FernOritiz: I am Chinese girl, I guess i can say something around me, at least they are authentic and real.
The girls on campus are less partaking in the A4 waist ...
I have seen it from my own social media here in China, not the internet. I first noticed when all the girls in my wechat started posting these pictures of themselves holding paper.
Reply Report seanboyce88 2016-3-22 18:29
christina_liu: Totally agree with you. Health should be the first thing that we consider, not beauty. I often see many young girls wearing less clothes in cold winte ...
completely agree!
Reply Report dusty1 2016-3-22 18:54
msrong: Someone should translate this into chinese and submit it to chinese websites and weibos of brainwashed actresses bragging about their A4 waists.
Stuart your own thread your off topic as usual
Reply Report dusty1 2016-3-22 18:54
Rediclous crazy challenge
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-3-22 19:15
seanboyce88: I am not so sure about masculinity in china, the number of manbags is way more than back home, less of an alpha male culture which I find ironic consi ...
Send you the PPT?
Reply Report Dracarys 2016-3-22 19:21
quite boring actually ..  another showing off

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  • Should we respect tradition? 2017-1-18 14:36

    Stick to follow the good traditions and abolish the bad traditions.

  • The A4 paper challenge, destroying China. 2016-12-31 00:45

    Why use such a provocative title? Destroying China, are you out of your mind?
    Body shaming, or fat shaming are terms originally from English-speaking countries like the US and Uk, right? I wonder if you have heard of the term "thigh gap", which is absolutely an American thing, or maybe a British thing as well. Would you also say that the US and UK are being destroyed? I bet you wouldn't.

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