NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Black and white photos have taken over your social media feeds lately with hashtags celebrating female empowerment.
CBS2’s Jessica Moore uncovered the real meaning behind these glamour shots meant to support and inspire.
What started with a handful of celebrities has expanded to women of every demographic, from all over the world.
The premise of #ChallengeAccepted is that the photos promote female empowerment and that nominating friends to take part in the campaign is a way for women to support each other.
“I think it’s really exciting because historically, because women were somewhat kept out of the workforce, it used to be that women had to really compete with each other because there was a limited number of spots available for women at the top and now, I think that’s really changing and women are easing up on the sense of need to be competitive with one another,” said psychologist Dr. Chloe Carmichael.
And while many of the photos look like model-caliber headshots, some women have been brave enough to post raw, unfiltered selfies showing them at their most vulnerable.
“During pregnancy and postpartum, there are so many times where we feel alone and I thought that by sharing this and sharing my story, it would remind people that they’re not alone and that we’re all in this together,” said Instagram influencer Jennifer Perrault.
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#challengeaccepted When I first received this challenge, I thought to myself how can I make other women feel strong and empowered with just a beautiful black and white photo? Everything looks good in black and white so I thought I would be a little vulnerable with you all to show you where our strength as women stems from. If you look at this black and white photo, you see that I’m angled just right for a picture perfect photo, but if you swipe left, you’ll see the marks that pregnancy left me with. I’m not gonna lie… I did not immediately love them and I’m sure I will still struggle in the future when I see my friends who also had babies look just as they did before. But I have to remember that we don’t share the same story and that’s okay. As women, we all carry scars or marks whether they’re visible like stretch marks or hardships scarred in our minds. But these marks help tell our stories and how we powered through challenging times and tough moments and came back out even stronger than before. Would I like to have a stretch mark-free body and fit in my old jeans? Sure, but then it wouldn’t be my story and there’s so much more to it than what I can only see in the mirror. These marks tell a story of love, strength and sacrifice and now I have the most beautiful baby boy to show for it all. Some women have scars from emergency c-sections and others may just have the memory of hardship they faced in life, but we still stand strong and keep powering forward to tell our stories because we’re women and that’s what we do! #strongwomen #womensupportingwomen #pregnancy #postpartumbody #stretchmarks #shareyourstory Update: the black and white photo challenge originated from a movement to protect women’s rights in Turkey as a lot of us didn’t know before posting including myself.
The campaign is not without controversy.
Author Bess Kalb tweeted, “Sorry I missed your call. Women on Instagram started posting their most flattering selfies in black and white and calling it an ’empowerment challenge’ and I threw my phone into the sea.”
Kalb touches on a relevant point, did we miss the point of this challenge?
“It turns out that the current incarnation of this trend actually started in Turkey as kind of a pushback against the high rates of femicide in the country. So in Turkey, women are using it to kind of say, ‘This is unacceptable. Women are being killed and we’re going to do something about it,'” said Sarah Stiefvater from PureWow, a women’s lifestyle website.
While most people agree women supporting women is never a bad thing, just posting a selfie doesn’t cut it.
“It’s incredible that something so seemingly insignificant as an Instagram trend can kind of lead you down this path of your opening eyes to injustices and saying what can I do about this,” said Stiefvater.
A small step toward empowering the women in our own backyards and around the world.
So far, more than 5 million photos with #ChallengeAccepted have been uploaded to Instagram and Twitter.