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#ChallengeAccepted: the IG trend to make celebs feel good about themselves

The celebs are at it again

Welcome to another edition of celebrities participating in empty symbolic gestures to feel good about themselves. You might remember the time white celebrities attempted to solve racism in a black and white video, or Gal Gadot’s far from inspiring “Imagine” video. This time, those on the highest echelons of the societal food chain have taken it upon themselves to promote female empowerment – by posting black and white selfies on Instagram.

The #ChallengeAccepted challenge invites women to post photographs – often posed and filtered, taken from flattering angles – with a benign caption underneath about female empowerment. Its premise is that once you’ve shared your photo, you can nominate other female friends to take part in it as a way to support each other. 

So far, 3.8 million photos have been uploaded under the hashtag, with entries by the likes of Cindy Crawford, Kerry Washington, Jennifer Garner, Kristen Bell, Eva Longoria, and Kim and Khloe Kardashian.

“Love this simple way to lift each other up. #ChallengeAccepted. Thank you for nominating me @vanessabryant,” Crawford posted on Monday (July 27) along with a black and white photo of herself strolling on a beach that’s akin to a Calvin Klein ad.

“Challenge accepted @vanessabryant and @malika thank you for choosing me for this! To all my queens – let’s spread love and remember to be a little kinder to one another,” wrote Khloe Kardashian on Sunday along with what appears to be a heavily edited selfie.

While the #ChallengeAccepted trend isn’t exclusive to celebrities, it’s hard to ignore the disparity between sharing a vanity selfie, which allows users to feel as if they’re taking a stand while saying almost nothing, and advocating for actual change. Especially when you consider the influence held by these celebrities over their millions-strong follower bases.

Unsurprisingly, the trend has been compared to #BlackoutTuesday, where hundreds of thousands of users – including musicians, actors, art institutions, and social media companies – posted black squares on Instagram as a mark of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd. But the trend was criticised for performative allyship and asked very little of those participating in it. 

“Ladies,” writer Alana Levinson tweeted on Monday, “instead of posting that hot black and white selfie, why don’t we ease into feminism with something low stakes, like cutting off your friend who’s an abuser?”

TV writer Camilla Blackett suggested that the campaign is basically an excuse for posting attractive photos. “What is the point of this #ChallengeAccepted thing?” she tweeted on Monday. “Do people not know you can just post a hot selfie for no reason?”