Recently, a photo posted by Chinese actress Yang Mi featuring her anime waist caused a sensation on China's microblogging site Weibo, with polarized comments for and against.
The post was a response to a challenge currently prevalent on social networking platforms. To take the anime waist challenge, players need to keep their thighs on a chair while lying face down and the waist bending backward to form a near right angle parallel to the chair legs.
It's believed that this pose - made by a female character in a popular anime - is a good way to display the body curve, promote flexibility and a slim waist, hence spawning a raft of imitators among young women.
However, the post soon sparked hot debate and polarized comments about the anime waist, pushing it into the Weibo trending list.
Some internet users simply regarded the movement as a yoga pose helping remind viewers of the value of working out to keep fit. Besides, some fans of Yang held that it was their idol's freedom to take up the challenge and post the photo.
Some netizens, nonetheless, blasted the challenge, claiming it would intensify the appearance anxiety of women and even containing a certain sexual innuendo. In addition, hopes that Yang, as a public figure, should be cautious about her posts were also expressed.
This posture makes one prone to waist injuries as well. The pose will overstretch one's lumbar spine and increase the risks of lumbar disc herniation, said Sun Haolin, an associate professor of the orthopedics department at Peking University First Hospital, Repeatedly making this pose may lead to muscle injuries.
Following the anime waist challenge uproar, Yang Mi posted on Weibo to apologize and call on followers to exercise with safety.
In fact, the anime waist challenge is not new. Many similar beauty challenges have swept the internet before, and led to widespread imitations, including the collarbone challenge (putting coins in your collarbone), the belly button challenge (touching your belly button by reaching behind your back and around your waist), and the A4 waist challenge (holding a sheet of A4 paper vertically in front of the torso as to highlight the slim waistline).
Whether the challenges are just for fun or ways to show off a slender figure, they may more or less aggravate the burden on women to keep slim and good-looking, and even leave an impression that those failing to achieve the poses are just too lazy to exercise.
Beauty is by no means only about one's appearance. What's more important is the inner heart, said Zhang Kaili, a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and a veteran actress.
We should improve our aesthetic sense and identify what constitutes real beauty to develop our own distinctive fascination.