Belly button challenge: The sexy new trend sweeping China (and why)

  • Sanya Panwar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 12, 2015 18:28 IST

A new social media trend is making waves across China: The belly button test. The simple sounding test involves you taking a photo of yourself, while reaching behind your back and around your waist so that your hand covers your belly button. We know you’re going to try to do it anyway, so before we get any further, go ahead. Give it a shot.

So, can you touch your belly button by reaching behind your back and around your waist? Can’t? Then you’re too fat for Chinese social media. Or too muscular. Or just not very flexible.

The belly button test is a way for young men and women – but mostly women – to show off their bodies. And it says a lot about the country’s obsession with being thin.

(All photos: Weibo)

According to BBC, thousands of netizens in China are uploading photographs of themselves showing off their bodies and undertaking the challenge.

Popular among many young female users on Weibo, the trending hashtag - which translates as "reaching your belly button from behind to show your good figure" - was mentioned more than 130 million times among Weibo readers. (Yeah, Chinese hashtags are really long.)

"Look! Success. More than four hours and I've finally reached my belly button," BBC quoted Weibo user GayleRabbit as saying.

Another user remarked: "Whoa. Why does my belly button suddenly look and feel brand new?"

In case you're wondering what's fueling this obsession: Apparently US scientists have said that women who can complete the belly button test have good figures, and those who cannot need to lose weight. However, the research referred to has not yet been identified, reported Daily Mail.

But the trend isn't completely bogus when it come to assessing your health: It's based in part on waist circumference, a measure that health experts use to calculate your waist-to-hip circumference, according to Cosmopolitan. The ratio works even better than body mass index (BMI) to estimate whether someone has an unhealthy amount of belly fat, according to the report. While belly fat itself isn't a death sentence, it is a predictor of visceral fat (the kind that gets all up in your organs) and metabolic disease. Women who have smaller waists and larger hips tend to be in the clear.

And even as it spawned 1,04,000 active discussion threads on Weibo, according to the BBC report, the belly button test has also led to concern about whether it's promoting an unhealthy body image.

Thankfully, though, a few gentlemen with dad bods have debunked the myth by posting their own belly button tests.

While the trend was dominated by many female users on Weibo, a photo uploaded by a male blogger took the microblogging community by storm.

"Is this trend really that difficult? I don't think so," said Weibo user Sough Sa.

His photo showcasing his attempt at touching his belly button, drew over 2,600 likes and was shared more some 8,500 times. It also drew more than 2,000 comments from other users on Weibo.

"You go Buddha! Show the skinny girls how it's done," said one user.

So, is the belly button test bordered on promoting eating disorders and 'distorting' society's standards of beauty? You be the judge.

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