If you’ve been perusing Instagram over the last 72 hours, you have undoubtedly seen your female friends posting Black-and-white selfies accompanied by the hashtag #Challengeaccepted. These posts also share #womenempowerment and #womensupportingwomen. It’s a powerful message taking over social media that is showing up on Facebook as well.
Chicago actress and model Arianna Lexus, who is featured above, is one of millions of women around the United States taking part.
“I chose this pic to represent the pure strength and power a woman possesses by being able to smile through the storm” Lexus told Reel 360.
Here’s how the challenge works: post a single black and white photo of yourself with the hashtag #ChallengeAccepted and then nominate another woman to do the same.
Instagram estimates 3 million pictures have been uploaded.
How or why posting empowering black and white photos of yourself as a “challenge” started is not entirely clear.
What is now a powerful expression of female solidarity in America was thought to have begun originally, in Turkey. A social campaign inspired by both the soaring rates of violence against women and the brutal murder of a 27-year-old student named Pinar Gültekin,.
According to BuzzFeed, protests in the country broke out after Gültekin’s ex-boyfriend led police to her strangled and partially burned body, stashed inside an oil drum, five days after her July 16 disappearance. The murder appears to have been the last straw in a nation where women feel increasingly endangered.
In 2019, 474 women were killed there—a 200% increase since 237 women were lost in 2013. It is also estimated that, so far in 2020 alone, 146 Turkish women have been murdered.
However there’s more to the story.
The origins of the first post have been traced by Taylor Lorenz of The New York Times. Lorenz found that the first woman to post a #challengeaccepted photo was Brazilian journalist Ana Paula Padrão.
The Indian Express claims the movement reportedly increased after the speech Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave when she lambasted Representative Ted Yoho for making sexist remarks against her.
And as more and more celebrities and non-celebrities started posting pictures, participation rocketed.
There are some, such as actress Ashley Platz (Hawaii Five-O), who have chosen not to post pictures of themselves, but photos of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old woman who was killed by police in her home. People have encouraged nominees to lift the voices of women who need to be heard.
Whatever the reason, Reel 360 and Reel Chicago support all women. In the United States. In Turkey. And everywhere else.
Thus far, over five million posts with the hashtag #ChallengeAccepted were posted, according to a search of Instagram.