A4 waist challenge: The unrealistic ‘fitness’ trend sweeping China

  • Sanya Panwar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 16, 2016 14:03 IST
The tiny waist challenge also called the ‘A4 waist challenge’ involves women uploading photos of themselves comparing their waist measurements to a vertical piece of A4 paper. (Twitter)

Move over thigh gap, there’s a whole new body challenge currently trending on social media, and this one’s as weird, wrong and worrying.

Chinese girls and women are getting hooked to a bizarre social media fad to proving that their toned midriffs are equal to or thinner than an A4 paper.

This new trend is the latest in a long series of health and beauty fads to have come out of China. (Twitter)

The tiny waist challenge, also called the ‘A4 waist challenge’, involves women uploading photos of themselves comparing their waist measurements to a vertical piece of A4 paper.

Read: Belly button challenge, the sexy new trend sweeping China (and why)

As expected, like with many other viral ‘fitness’ challenges before this, this one too targets young women to take part in a bid to show off their thin physiques.

The trend has seen participants trying to demonstrate their waists are equal to or narrower than the width of the average printer paper. (Twitter)

Fans of the tiny waist challenge would claim that it’s a reachable goal to aim towards and they’ve also shared photos (We show you a dozen of them below) of women who possess standard ‘A4 waists’.

#a4waist #challenge Lol..听说最近这个很流行?😂😂😂

A photo posted by Elzawan (@elzawan) on

#a4waist #chinesechallenge #insfollow #follow4follow

A photo posted by @yyy_wuzhaoyu on


A photo posted by 张雯 (@yoonhoserena) on

A4 paper waist challenge? Definitely a fail! #a4waist

A photo posted by ♡ (@nnnnnnnyyy) on


A photo posted by Lyn_ly (@lynzeroone) on

A4waste😃 #a4waist #spring #march #keepfit #fitness

A photo posted by Ruan (@jr_superhero) on


A photo posted by 杨小凡 (@x1aofan) on


A photo posted by 💁*KARY*🐳 (@lpkhuang) on

#A4waist 已经奔着A3去了

A photo posted by 🚶🚶🏃🏃🏃🏃 (@jojoyin07) on

But as China’s online obsession of obtaining ‘perfect abs’ intensified with new fad, the controversial new trend sparked debate over whether it sets unrealistic ‘fitness’ and ‘health’ goals for women to achieve. After all, we’re talking about a waist size that is the same or narrower than the width of an A4 paper which measures just 21cm!

A standard sheet of A4 paper, as typically defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), measures just 8.27 inches wide and 11.69 inches long.

But there is some saving grace after all: Most boys have shunned the trend and refused to take part as they say it’s impossible for them to have such a small waist, reported The Daily Mail.

Many are saying that the trend is sending a worrying message about body image. It seems to be saying the thinner you are the better you are. It’s also asking young women to measure up to random tests of beauty and could promote body shaming and eating disorders.

John Disereits wrote on Twitter: ‘So are they insinuating smaller is better? Not cool to offend the girls who don’t measure up in this manner.’

Sample another reaction.

Meanwhile, despite the criticism, thousands of participants have taken part in the challenge, sharing pictures of themselves holding a piece of blank A4 paper against their waist to social media website, Sina Weibo, often referred to as the Chinese Twitter.

And social media users were unrelenting in their derision of the whole concept, with user xiao11211614 writing on Weibo: ‘I’m a size smaller than A4. I’m A3.’

Others were equally quick to make fun of the trend by saying that they too have A4 waists, when the paper is held horizontally. Like the one below.

The pursuit of perfect abs seems to have become something of an obsession online in China, with ‘The Most Beautiful Firm Abs’ currently standing as the third most searched topic on Weibo, reported the Daily Mail.

Other odd moves performed by girls for the camera have included bending their arms around in order to touch their belly button and ‘reverse praying’, or clasping hands behind their back.

Proof below.

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