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July 8, 2021
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Viral Challenges Wreaking Havoc on Self-Esteem


It feels like every week there is a new viral challenge taking over the internet.

While some challenges are just for fun or laughs, not all of them are as harmless as they seem.  

Challenges on the internet started taking off around 2014 when the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge started and everyone including kids, adults, celebrities and athletes took part. This challenge was created by Pat Quinn and Pete Frates who both had ALS and wanted to bring awareness of the disease to the internet. The challenge went mega viral and they were able to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for ALS research and the ALS Association. This is a great example of the power of viral challenges. However, viral challenges have continued to evolve and they may be playing a part in why so many children and teens are struggling with self-esteem issues. 

Tik Tok has created the perfect platform for viral challenges. Because anyone has the ability to go viral on Tik Tok, it makes it easy for such a large audience to see a challenge and start taking part in it. Tik Tok is infamous for making new dance challenges and dancers go viral, but the content available on the platform is so diverse that there is no telling what kind of challenge could come up on your for you page. More recently a lot of the challenges and trends that are going viral have to do with someone’s appearance. 

A couple of challenges that have gone viral recently have to do with how small someone can get their waist to appear. The first challenge has users tie headphones around their waist to see how much excess cord they have left or how many times they can wrap it around themselves. Similarly, the corset challenge went viral which started because someone posted a video of them tying themselves into their corset while lip syncing to the lyrics, “No one wants a waist over 9 inches” from the song “Haus of Holbein” by SIX. After a couple of these videos went viral, an enormous amount of Tik Tok users took to the internet to find and buy a corset of their own. Both of these challenges can be detrimental to someone’s mental health and self-esteem for multiple reasons. For one, if they attempt the challenge and don’t get the same results then they are going to think negatively about themselves, when they could have just not participated. 

Another challenge that many Tik Tok users are participating in is the Inverted Filter Challenge. The inverted filter on Tik Tok allows users to press the screen and see what their face looks like flipped. Some people figured out that if you stayed completely still and tapped the screen multiple times while recording then you could see how symmetrical your face is. This challenge is making people hyper aware of their facial features and makes them question why they aren’t as symmetrical as other users taking part in the challenge. 

Before, viral challenges were all about having fun, raising awareness or being silly, but now they are so intensely focused on comparing ourselves to others. As if that wasn’t an issue for young girls already, now they are also subjecting themselves to the criticism of internet users who aren’t always very nice. Remind your kids that just because a challenge is going viral does not mean that they have to take part, especially if they know there’s a chance their feelings could get hurt. 


Jessica Lee

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