UPDATE: All images of the challenge in this article have been removed to stay in compliance with google’s policies, sorry for any inconvenience.
In the so-called One Finger Selfie Challenge, women take nude photos of themselves through a mirror while covering their private parts with just one finger.
The challenge was triggered by a manga illustration from anime artist Sky-FreeDom, who is active on multiple social media platforms.
WHERE IT ALL STARTED
“One finger is not enough to cover everything..”
The ‘One Finger Selfie’ manga was first posted August 15 of this year on Twitter, where it received over 1800 likes and 800 shares. A day later, the artist also posted it on Japanese online community Pixiv.
On Pixiv, Sky Freedom is known as “Sky” (スカイ). The artist, who describes himself as a Malaysian Chinese cartoonist, is also popular on Weibo as @Sky Freedom (253.170 followers), and has a following of 8580 on Twitter under the @sky_freedom_ handle.
When the ‘One Finger Selfie Challenge’ initially became trending after mid-November, the artist responded with a clear “Hahahahahaha!” on his Weibo account. When the trend spread to more countries like Russia and Australia by late November, the artist reacted surprised but seemed happy about the hype.
“This whole thing makes Sky happy as a child,” one of his fans commented.
Another Weibo user seemed disappointed: “I have tried it but this is not working for me, one finger is not enough to cover everything.”
ONE FINGER COVERS THREE SPOTS
“Why are you willing to sell your morals for a challenge?”
Although there are many pictures floating around Chinese social media, a great number were taken offline by the time of writing.
Sina Weibo does not allow ‘pornography’ or ‘illegal publications’ (扫黄打非) to be shared on its platform, although it not always clear what the boundaries are.
Many Weibo netizens seem happy with the picture trends. “These girls are pretty cool,” some netizens said.
When others complained that the girls all had small breasts, another commenter said: “They wouldn’t be able to do this challenge if their breasts were bigger.”
Some netizens could not appreciate the challenge: “I hope I won’t see these pictures again on my timeline. I am a bit older, and I don’t understand this hype. Why are you willing to sell your morals for a challenge?”, one female netizen said.
“Sending nudes is a way of getting attention and compliments to build self-confidence.”
The One Finger Selfie Challenge is just one among the many selfie trends that have come up on Chinese social media over the past year. There was the collarbone coin challenge, the iPhone6 leg trend, or the A4 waist hype – all big hypes that involved posting selfies with containing (partial) nudity.
Earlier this week, e-finance app Alipay sparked controversy when some of its newly introduced social groups turned into erotic platforms where women posted nudes of themselves.
Why is this kind of social exhibition so ubiquitous on (Chinese) social media? According to recent studies on selfie-sharing, the need to belong and the need for self-representation play an important role in this (Sorokowska et al 2016, 119).
With the sharing of nude selfies, exploring sexuality also plays a role besides the need to ‘fit in.’ Especially for women, sending nudes is a way of getting attention and compliments about their looks to help build self-confidence (ESRC 2016).
In Sexting and Cyberbullying (2014), Shaheen Shariff explains the phenomenon of nude female selfies in the context of popular culture, where powerful female celebrities are marketing the ‘modern woman’ as being strong and sexually assertive. Shariff points out that although many women might feel empowered by sharing their own sexualized images, they often do not realize that they are also sexually objectified through them (2014, 45-46).
But for many netizens, the One Finger Selfie Challenge is also just all about fun. Shortly after women posted their (nearly) nude selfies for the challenge, other netizens responded by interpreting the challenge in their own way, some girls posing with their clothes on. Some male netizens also posted pictures of themselves, many making fun of the challenge.
“We’re blessed with this challenge on Weibo,” one male netizen responded. Another person said: “I’ve been practicing for half a day now, and did not manage to cover three spots with one finger, but I did manage to cover one spot with three fingers.”
ESRC. 2016. “Why are young people sharing nude selfies?” Economic and Social Research Council, November 3 http://www.esrc.ac.uk/news-events-and-publications/news/news-items/why-are-young-people-sharing-nude-selfies/ [3.12.16].
Shariff, Shaheen. 2014 (2012). Sexting and Cyberbullying: Defining the Line for Digitally Empowered Kids. Cambridge University Press.
Sorokowska, A., Oleszkiewicz, A., Frackowiak, T., Pisanski, K., Chmiel, A., & Sorokowski, P. 2016. “Selfies and personality: Who posts self-portrait photographs?” Personality and Individual Differences, 90, 119–123.
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