The 10 Most Ridiculous Body Challenges

If there’s one thing humans love, it’s attention. The endlessly networked world of social media has enabled us to get that attention from all over the world with the click of an iPhone camera lens. But when a simple selfie isn’t enough, we enter the brutal and bizarre world of “body challenges,” where people show off their anatomy in unique and ridiculous ways. Both men and women get sucked into this tomfoolery, and in this piece we’ll explore the world of body challenges and see what the heck is going on.

Underboob Challenge

The 10 Most Ridiculous Body Challenges

The world’s attitude toward hooters is such a weird thing. We’re obsessed with looking at women’s breasts but also insanely protective of them. But men can walk around shirtless and nobody bats an eye — even if they have man-boobs that would make a porn star blush. The 2016 “Underboob Challenge” was just one manifestation of this, when hundreds of women took to Instagram to post pictures of the bottom of their boobs with pens tucked underneath them. The message was clear: Their sweater puppies were firm and perky but also of a nice size, and we read them loud and clear. That said, there have to be better places to keep a pen.

Belly Button Challenge

The 10 Most Ridiculous Body Challenges

Most of these body challenges involve some degree of setup to pull off, but you can do the “Belly Button Challenge” anywhere. Or at least you can try to. Originating in China, the concept is simple: Reach across the back of your body with one of your arms and pull your fingers forward so they touch your belly button. You need a thin waist and lots of flexibility to do it (we certainly couldn’t), but having extra-long arms doesn’t hurt either. Thousands of people both in China and abroad posted pictures of themselves doing the twist, and even some chubby folks with gorilla arms got in on the fun.

iPhone Knees Challenge

The 10 Most Ridiculous Body Challenges

Leave it to China to make explicit the unhealthy relationship between thinness and beauty. When the new slim iPhone 6 dropped, a number of Chinese women decided to use the device to play up how narrow their legs are with a challenge: If you can completely cover both your knees with the tiny phone, you win. If that seems ridiculous to you, it should, but it was a huge phenomenon in China. The initial post on social network Weibo racked up nearly 100 million views and lots of follow-ups from bone-thin ladies and their new phones.

Finger Trap Test

The 10 Most Ridiculous Body Challenges

So many of these challenges rest on simple superstition — the belief that if a certain part of your body is a certain way, you’re beautiful. One of the most ridiculous examples is the “Finger Trap Test,” which started making the rounds in 2014. It’s simple to do: Just raise your index finger, placing the tip against your nose and the base against your chin. If your lips touch the finger, voila! You’re hot! The test is loosely based on the “3:1 ratio” of facial symmetry, but there’s literally no scientific correlation between attractiveness and kissing your finger.

Bikini Bridge Challenge

The 10 Most Ridiculous Body Challenges

Summer is coming, and with it swimsuit season. And if there’s one thing women are neurotic about, it’s how they look in a swimsuit. The “Bikini Bridge Challenge” of 2014 actually started as a prank perpetrated by notorious messageboard 4chan, where fake profiles of women posted images of their flat bellies and high hipbones holding the front straps of their bikini bottoms elevated over their flesh. The challenge quickly went viral and was picked up by participants who embraced it fully. Sadly, the phrase “bikini bridge” is common on many pro-anorexia sites where women force themselves down to unhealthy weights to conform to unrealistic body standards.

Reverse Prayer Challenge

The 10 Most Ridiculous Body Challenges

Flexibility is a big part of many of these body challenges, but 2015’s bizarre “reverse prayer” pose stretched many people to the limit. Like other similar setups, it required aspirants to contort into a bizarre position: both hands behind the back, palms together, with their cell phone in between. The higher you can raise your arms, the more flexible you are — that is, if you can even get them together at all. The trend swept Weibo before jumping the pond to the United States. One of the funniest things to come out of it was a number of fakers who pulled their hair over their face and wore their clothes backwards to cheat on the challenge.

Collarbone Quarter Challenge

The 10 Most Ridiculous Body Challenges

We’ve all got bones, but that doesn’t mean we need to see them. One of the more perplexing body challenges of the last few years debuted in 2015, as Instagram was suddenly deluged with snaps of women holding spare change in their collarbones. The “Collarbone Quarter Challenge” originated on China’s Weibo but quickly spread. The rules are simple: balance quarters on the edge in the gap between your clavicle and your shoulder — the more, the better. One champion managed to hold a staggering 80 coins on both sides combined. What this proves about your physical fitness is anybody’s guess, but it sure looks weird.

Hairy Armpit Challenge

The 10 Most Ridiculous Body Challenges

While most of these beauty challenges involve creating an unnatural image of womanhood, at least one has been used to embrace the natural: the “Hairy Armpit Challenge,” which was launched by Chinese feminist Xiao Meili. She encouraged ladies to lift their arms and share their unshaven pits with the world, and offered prizes for the most popular pit selfies. While China doesn’t necessarily have the same stigma against armpit hair as the States do, it was still a controversial initiative. Thousands of shots streamed in of ladies in various states of pit grooming, with the most popular winning 100 condoms.

Paper Waist Challenge

The 10 Most Ridiculous Body Challenges

Back to China for another body challenge that makes women make themselves as tiny as possible. The “A4 Challenge” (for those of you not embedded in the printing industry, A4 is the standard paper size for printers, also called “letter size” here in the States) tasked Chinese women with holding a single sheet vertically over their waistlines to show their slimness. Unlike other body challenges, this one was a little easier to spoof — the farther away you held the paper, the more of your body it could shield — but if you’re upset that you’re more than eight inches wide from the front, you should seek counseling. A little quick math extrapolates that a successful challenger has a 25 inch waist diameter, which is really, really tiny.

Kylie Jenner Challenge

The 10 Most Ridiculous Body Challenges

Celebrities wield an inordinate amount of power on social media, and they can certainly use it for evil. Case in point: when Kylie Jenner and her perfect pout started dominating Instagram, tons of wannabes tried to mimic her look, with disastrous results. Rumor had it that Jenner used a plumping device that used suction to increase blood flow to her lips. Without access to that device, “Kylie Jenner Challenge” participants used shot glasses and other cups to DIY it at home. The end result? Hundreds of selfies and videos of poor suckers with grotesquely inflated lips in extreme pain. Beauty is painful, people.