~ Alisha Mehra
What is the Black and White Challenge?
Over the past couple of weeks, we saw our Instagram feeds flooded with black and white photographs of women under the hashtags women supporting women or challenge accepted or even women empowerment. One must have wondered what this challenge was all about and why so many celebrities were rolling with it?
This challenge to a great degree required Women who were part of this campaign to post a black-and-white photograph of themselves and nominate other women to do the same to carry on the cycle of empowerment supposedly fostered by it. Many celebrities took to themselves to promote this challenge such as Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez, Ivanka Trump, etc. The trend quickly caught on and further gained momentum with other distinguished figures such as Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria, and Kristen Bell joining in.
Origin of Black and White Challenge.
Many speculators are contemplating the origin of this challenge which is, for the most part, traced to Turkey. The black and white challenge is scrupulously linked to the plight of women in Turkey and the high rate of femicide there.
Femicide is the killing of a woman or girl, in particular by a man on account of her gender which is extensively prevalent in Turkey but is rather a hushed-up issue. It is not only an issue in Turkey but has international sympathizers. Even India, our home country has a rather poor reputation for violence against women, dowry killings, female infanticides, and domestic violence against women. It is one of the top 5 countries infamous for being the most unsafe for women all around the world. Because this matter has global scrutiny, both the challenge and the origin, spread like fire.
A series of events presumably hit the road when twenty-seven years old girl Pinar Gultekin was allegedly strangled, burned and murdered by her ex-boyfriend and her picture was published in black and white in the local newspaper. Many women since then started capturing black and white photographs in Turkey to indicate that they can be next.
A representative from Instagram said that the earliest photograph associated with this challenge was posted sometime in the last week of July by a Brazilian journalist Ana Paula Padrao. As of lately, there are 53,00,000 images on Instagram associated with this challenge. In the opinion of some critics, the challenge overtime lost all its credibility and was foreshortened to being an ostensible reason for insignificant selfies.
According to an article in The New York Times, This is not the first time Instagram users have leveraged black-and-white selfies in support of a vague cause. Back in 2016 black-and-white photos with the hashtag #ChallengeAccepted were meant to spread a message of “cancer awareness”, over the years the photo trend has also been wont to spread positivity. Even now people have taken liberties with this trend, for instance, Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon partook the challenge to raise awareness about African American Breonna Taylor who was shot dead by Louisville Metro Department cops in March this year.
Both the statement and pictures soon shot up in the twinkle of an eye. Celebrities succumbed to this challenge like their morning tea, and it was soon reduced to being one of their many. Upsettingly many were simultaneously misrepresenting the purpose and the trend appeared to be open to multiple interpretations.
Lastly, I would like to say that trends are comparable to the Chinese whisper of social media which ultimately dissolves into absurdity. While we hope that this trend does spread the awareness about femicide and other atrocious crimes against women that the trendsetter aspired for, we certainly cannot stop the unwarranted affiliations that come with it.
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