Black and white selfie challenge - what it actually means

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Your Instagram feed is probably flooded with black and white pictures of your friends and favourite celebs from Jennifer Aniston to Reese Witherspoon, showing their support for the “sisterhood”. But what is the origin of this black and white selfie challenge and who is it actually serving?

Kat Brown, Telegraph journalist comments: “In a time when women are in genuine need of support – whether in terms of being squeezed by lack of childcare, seeing their careers go up in flames, or the devastating increase in domestic violence during lockdown, what’s the point in just doing another performative pretty girl challenge with no substance”.

If we have learnt one lesson from the Black Lives Matters movement, it’s that, “if you’re going to take part in a campaign, then it should mean something, otherwise it is just virtue signalling”, she says.

Black and white selfie challenge – what it actually means

Thanks to author and journalist Poorna Bell, we now understand that the proper origin of the black and white photo challenge is to raise awareness of the murder of Turkish women. Turkey is one of the countries with the highest number of femicides and the aim of “women supporting women” is to show solidarity for the women lost, she says.

Black and white selfie challenge - what it actually means

Challenge accepted

Challenge accepted, a movement that has already garnered over 5 million hashtags and counting.

“It [#challengeaccepted] isn’t a new concept”, Poorna explains to her 25k followers. “It has been used for other causes in the past, but the current movement is about women in Turkey. People are using this to say the story is fake news and it isn’t, because the movement is very much current and why it took off, but a point worth clarifying.

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(Edited update: this is a reference to the current movement but #challengeaccepted isn’t a new concept. It has been used for other causes in the past, but the current movement is about women in Turkey. People are using this to say the story is fake news and it isn’t, because the movement is very much current and why it took off, but a point worth clarifying). Just sharing this as a resource if you are taking part in the #challengeaccepted black and white photo movement. Understand why this took off in the first place, and offer context as to why you’re posting it. And I’ve said it before – question your activism and understand why you’re doing it. If your reaction to this is that you wouldn’t have posted it knowing what it’s about, ask yourself why you feel comfortable posting a photo of yourself to support women in a vague way, but not women from Turkey who are being senselessly killed in domestic violence situations – a number that has risen 200% since 2013. Women support women, the end. Not just the women in our own lives. Also, very proud of people that have edited their posts and flagged the change – we are all learning, and you are amazing. Apologies that it isn’t part of the IGTV but only found this out after the fact. Thank you @deepadevlukia for flagging and @auturkishculturalclub for posting. #instagram #activism

A post shared by Poorna Bell (@poornabell) on

“Just sharing this as a resource if you are taking part in the #challengeaccepted black and white photo movement. Understand why this took off in the first place, and offer context as to why you’re posting it. And I’ve said it before – question your activism and understand why you’re doing it.

“If your reaction to this is that you wouldn’t have posted it knowing what it’s about, ask yourself why you feel comfortable posting a photo of yourself to support women in a vague way, but not women from Turkey who are being senselessly killed in domestic violence situations – a number that has risen 200% since 2013. Women support women, the end. Not just the women in our own lives.

“Also, very proud of people that have edited their posts and flagged the change – we are all learning, and you are amazing”.

“We don’t need another vague movement saying we support women – that should be a basic, a default”.

Well, now we know!

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