POLL | Lame or good cause? Women are posting black and white portraits to promote empowerment

31 July 2020 - 13:10 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Instagram says Brazilian journalist Ana Paula Padrão is among the first women who started the women empowerment challenge on the platform.
Instagram says Brazilian journalist Ana Paula Padrão is among the first women who started the women empowerment challenge on the platform.
Image: Instagram/Ana Paula Padrao

The "challenge accepted" Instagram trend is causing controversy on social media after a debate erupted about where it originates from and what it means.

Millions of women have shared black and white pictures of themselves with the caption "challenge accepted" and with inspirational messages for other women.

The woman then nominates others to continue the challenge on their pages.

However, what has been seen as a positive online women empowerment movement has received backlash from people who have questioned its impact on society.

New York Times travel journalist Tariro Mzezewa shared her explanation of #ChallengeAccepted on Twitter earlier this week, and said it originated in Turkey where women protested against gender-based violence (GBV).

She said the women told her they were tired of waking up to black and white pictures of women who had died at the hands of men. 

Taylor Lorenz, also a New York Times reporter, said the challenge has previously been used for different causes, including raising cancer awareness in 2016.

She was critical of the challenge, and said influencers and celebrities were quick to jump on it because it spares them the effort to advocate in real life about important issues.

She likened the challenge with the black square widely used to show solidarity with black people in the wake of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests. 

“The black and white selfie allows users to feel as if they’re taking a stand while saying almost nothing. Influencers and celebrities love these types of 'challenges' because they don’t require actual advocacy, which might alienate certain factions of their fan base,” she wrote.

She later shared on Twitter that she has been receiving backlash from people who accused her of being anti-women.

On Friday morning, CNN reported that the challenge started almost two weeks ago and does not originate from Turkey.

According to Instagram, the challenge gained popularity in part after Brazilian journalist Ana Paula Padrão shared a black and white picture on women empowerment on the platform.