Now Reading
What Is Challenge Accepted: The New Social Media Campaign Involving Black-And-White Selfies

What Is Challenge Accepted: The New Social Media Campaign Involving Black-And-White Selfies

Tracee Ellis Ross

A quick glance at your Instagram feed this morning and you’ll realise an usual theme occurring.

In recent days, Instagram has been increasingly punctuated by black-and-white images of women with the hashtag #challengeaccepted and #womensupportingwomen.

Celebrities including Khloé Kardashian, Florence Pugh, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston have all taken to the social media platform to share greyscale selfies in a bid to empower women and encourage female solidarity.

But where did the hashtag come from, who else is sharing photos of themselves and is it causing controversy?


What is the #ChallengeAccepted campaign?

It’s unknown who started the Challenge Accepted campaign at this point but an Instagram representative recently cited a black-and-white image shared with the hashtag #womensupportingwomen that was posted by Brazilian journalist Ana Paula Padrão.

It’s widely believe the campaign has gained interest after Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke out on the floor of Congress last week to address Representative Ted Yoho’s sexist comments about her.

When a video of her speech went viral, it led to an increase in social media posts about feminism and the importance of female empowerment.

‘That was the spark that led to the resurgence of the hashtag challenge,’ Cristine Abram, a public relations and influencer marketing manager for social media marketing company Later told the New York Times.

‘It’s all to do with female empowerment. There was this hashtag that already existed to raise awareness around other large issues. Tapping into that allowed participants to gain traction a lot faster because the algorithm was already familiar with the hashtag.’

In 2016, the #ChallengeAccepted hashtag appeared on social media alongside black-and-white photos. At the time, the captions of photos referred to the importance of increasing cancer awareness.

The hashtag #ChallengeAccepted now has more than 3.8 million shares and the hashtag #womensupportingwomen has now been tagged in close to seven million posts.

How does the #ChallengeAccepted campaign work?

There is no strict formula to the challenge but it appears that users who want to take part in the challenge are asked to share a black-and-white photo to social media with the hashtags #challengecccepted and #womensupportingwomen.

Users are also encouraged to tag or mention the woman who encouraged them to participate in the challenge and then tag additional women who they’d like to see take part.

The idea of the challenge appears to be an effort to bring women together on Instagram to promote female solidarity and that by encouraging each other to tag other users, it’s a way of publicly showing support for women.

Which celebrities have taken part in the #ChallengeAccepted campaign?

At this point, it’s a question of who hasn’t taken part in the challenge.

Celebrities including Cindy Crawford, Kerry Washington, Vanessa Bryant, Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria, Millie Bobby Brown and Jennifer Love Hewitt have shared black-and-white photos of themselves on Instagram and encouraged friends and other celebrities to do the same.

Khloé Kardashian captioned her post: ‘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.’

Actress Nicola Peltz shared a photograph of herself and took the opportunity to challenge her soon-to-be mother-in-law, Victoria Beckham, to take part in the challenge.

‘Challenge accepted @victoriabeckham 💖,’ she captioned her post. ‘I’m beyond lucky to have so many strong women in my life that empower me and those around them. what a blessing to have a mum and future mother in law that are both as beautiful inside as they are outside and who are incredible role models for me. [sic]’

TV presenter Alexa Chung shared an illustration of Sandra Bland to her Instagram account to raise awareness of the importance the Black Lives Matter movement, fighting institutional racism and police brutality. Bland, 28, was found hanged in a jail cell in Texas in 2015 in police custody.

Is the #ChallengeAccepted campaign causing controversy?

In similar vein to previous social media challenges, such as the #10YearChallenge and the #IceBucketChallenge, what appears at first to be a way to encourage positivity and empowerment also draws criticism for its seemingly performative nature.

Some Twitter users have expressed their dismay at the fact women are encouraging each other to address sexism and champion female empowerment by sharing a selfie.

‘I just hate that women want to feel empowered and the first thing they think of is selfies,’ podcaster Ali Segel shared on Twitter on Monday.

She explained her frustration to NYT, adding: ‘I think that if this “movement” featured trans women, or showcased female businesses or accomplishments or women in history, it would make more sense.

‘But the idea of this as a challenge or cause is really lost on me.’

While trans women have taken part in the challenge, others have taken umbrage with the way Instagram users aren’t taking the opportunity to support female empowerment by celebrating women’s achievements in their careers.

‘I don’t get this new “challenge” either; wouldn’t it be more appropriate to instead post work we have recently enjoyed that was created by other women? Books, docs, magazine articles, beauty products, apps, charities, etc,’ writer Natalia Buia tweeted Segel.

Some Twitter users have suggested those taking part in the campaign are using it as a way to share a photograph of themselves, rather than focusing on the feminist message at its core.



Join the ELLE Singapore mailing list for all that's happening in fashion, beauty and pop culture.