The bizarre trend: Chinese women are posting photos of their armpit hair on social media.
The uplifting part: It's all part of a coordinated effort to challenge society's perceptions of beauty. It's pretty awesome.
The women are taking to Weibo, a Chinese micro-blogging service similar to Twitter, in a competition that roughly translates to "Girls not plucking their armpit hair." According to the Daily Mail, the campaign's page has reached an astonishing 28 million views since launching on July 17 and is expected to release a list of the top 10 entrants.
Image Credits: Daily Mail / Weibo
Even some dudes are joining in:
Image Credits: Bustle / Weibo
The background: Feminism has struggled to find as large a role in public life in China as it has in America and Europe, but Chinese feminism is still an active movement that uses social media much like its Western counterparts. Campaigns against blaming women for tempting subway gropers and that challenge violence against women have used Weibo, even though activists routinely faced censorship on Chinese web services. Various reports claim Weibo has between 10 and 130 million users, though it faces competition from upstart instant messaging services like WeChat that have more privacy controls, making it more difficult for Chinese authorities' to censor content.
The current campaign, intended to trigger a discussion about body image, tells women that "you should have confidence that you are beautiful just the way you are, shaven or not." As far as the U.S. blogosphere can tell, the point is to challenge patriarchal standards of beauty.
Image Credits: Shanghaiist / Weibo
The Gloss' Hayley Hoover warns that non-Chinese-speaking Western media could be misinterpreting the trend, which may be less directly related to some American feminists' view of shaving as a form of patriarchal body shaming. But she also thinks this selfie trend should come to the U.S., saying that, "I don't want to steal China's thunder, but I really wouldn't mind if this Weibo game carried over to Twitter." Oystermag, for its part, is soliciting contributions for its own competition.
For now, you might as well enjoy this healthy and pro-women social media phenomenon —and the somewhat strange but wonderful selfies. Go girls!
Image Credits: Rocket News