Women support women in ‘Challenge Accepted’ photo campaign on Instagram

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Actress Kerry Washington participates in the Challenge Accepted Instagram trend that celebrates women.


Kerry Washington/Instagram

If you’re on Instagram, you might have noticed your feed flooded with black and white images of women, along with the hashtags #ChallengeAccepted and #WomenSupportingWomen. The viral campaign is a lighthearted way for women to show appreciation for other women who inspire and support each other. It’s been embraced by famous and not-so-famous women, though a small contingent has criticized it, saying it ignores a previous somber campaign from Turkey.  

Women from all walks of life are posting selfies with positive affirmations about the importance of supporting and inspiring other women. They’re also nominating other women to do the same on their own Instagram accounts.

As many as over 3 million photos have been posted with the #ChallengeAccepted or #WomenSupportingWomen hashtags.

“Love this simple way to lift each other up. #challengeaccepted,” model Cindy Crawford posted an Instagram photo of herself on walking along a beach. “Thank you for nominating me @vanessabryant.”  

Here’s more information on the campaign and how you can participate.

“Challenge Accepted. Cherishing, supporting and believing in women is one of my greatest joys,” actress Clare Grant posted on her Instagram Monday. “Women loving me, supporting me, and understanding me is one of my greatest strengths. Big love to the women who nominated me, all of whom I am enormously in awe of and inspired by.”

What is it?

The Challenge Accepted campaign is a way for women to support one another and celebrate themselves. The challenge consists of women posting a black and white picture of themselves, using the hashtag #WomenSupportingWomen and including a thank you to the woman who nominated them.

Women are then nominating one woman (or more) privately in their direct messages to post their own black and white selfie, with a supporting comment or two about the importance of female friendships and sisterhood.

“Be confident no matter how much makeup you have on. You rock exactly the way you look!” actress Felicia Day posted on her Instagram.

Why are women participating?

Women are participating to show their appreciation for women who have inspired them in their goals — personal and professional — as well as to celebrate female friends who have stood by their side or given them support when they needed it most. 

Backlash

While the idea of female empowerment seems like a positive message, not all women agree it’s the best way to encourage women to celebrate their accomplishments and address current challenges. 

“I think that if this ‘movement’ featured trans women, or showcased female businesses or accomplishments or women in history, it would make more sense,” podcaster Ali Segel told The New York Times on Monday. “But the idea of this as a challenge or cause is really lost on me.”

(Note: Trans women, including actress Candis Cayne, have also been participating in the challenge on Instagram.)

“I just hate that women want to feel empowered and the first thing they think of is selfies,” Segel tweeted.

Segel wasn’t alone in her criticism of the challenge.

“I don’t get this new ‘challenge’ either; wouldn’t it be more appropriate to instead post work we have recently enjoyed that was created by other women? Books, docs, magazine articles, beauty products, apps, charities, etc.,” writer and digital producer Natalia Buia tweeted.

Previous Turkey campaign

The Challenge Accepted campaign on Instagram has also recently been criticized for not acknowledging a previous campaign in Turkey that was “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 KQED on Tuesday.

A Turkish Twitter user named @imaann_patel explained more on Twitter about the original challenge in Turkey:

Who has done it?

The diversity of women participating is impressive. Just in my own Instagram feed, actresses, scientists, activists, directors, CEOs, coders, gamers and more are sharing their love for other women who inspire them and keep them going.

Celebrities including Ava DuVernay,  Demi LovatoHalle BerryJeri Ryan, Kerry Washington, Felicia Day, Cindy Crawford, Jennifer Garner, Jamie ChungKristen Bell, Jessica AlbaTaraji P. Henson, Amber Midthunder, Marlee MatlinEva Longoria, and many more are all posting their photos to help the campaign gain momentum.

Here are some of the many selfies being posted on Instagram: 

Originally published on July 27. Updated on July 29 with Turkey campaign history.

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