The "belly button challenge" is going viral. We don't recommend getting involved.

A woman does the bellybutton challenge. Image via Weibo.

The “belly button challenge” is the latest body-conscious craze to sweep social media, and it’s just as ridiculous and unachievable as it sounds. Apparently, reaching behind your body to place a finger on your bellybutton is evidence of having a “good” body – and the photo you upload to social media is your trophy.

Weibo (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter) has been inundated with photos of people contorting their bodies to jam their fingers into their b-button, all in the name of vanity. These photos are hashtagged with a Chinese phrase which translates to “reach your belly button from behind to show you have a good figure”.

This sadly-phrased hashtag has had over 130 million hits.

Hey, it's a human pretzel! A woman does the bellybutton challenge. Image via Weibo.

Generally, I would say that I’ve got better things to do than play with my belly button, but for the sake of journalism, I tried the challenge. All I got was a sore shoulder and a few weird looks in the office, because there was no bellybutton action for any of my fingers. I couldn’t do it. Does this mean that I have a “bad” figure?

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Not according to Louise Adams, clinical psychologist and the founder of the Sydney practice, Treat Yourself Well.

“Don’t buy into it. The only way we can stop this tidal wave of negative stuff is to turn away from it, and actually see it for what it is. This is not inspiration. This is damaging,” warned Adams.

“It’s like the bikini bridge, or the thigh gap – it’s yet another way of judging and scrutinising our bodies, and putting it on social media is going to add to this big bucket of damage that we’re doing to our body image,” advises Adams. (Post continues after gallery.)

Adams believes that those who partake in the bellybutton challenge are doing “body-image disservice to themselves” and displaying “eating-disordered thinking”.

“When you have an eating disorder, how your body looks becomes related to your self-esteem. So, for example, if I have a ‘not good’ body, then I’m a ‘bad’ person," she says.

It explains why some are posting their "success" pictures as a badge of honour.

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The belly button challenge presents an unscientific, unproven and false measure of "health”, all while making the participants look like smug pretzels.

At The Glow office, we tried the bellybutton challenge, with limited success. And those of us who could do it found that it would only work with one arm, while the other arm could not get anywhere near the bellybutton. Also, the more we practiced, the easier it became to reach our bellybuttons. So, in our experience, it was more about flexibility, practice and arm length, rather than having a particular figure. (Post continues after gallery.)


Do yourself a favour and avoid caring about this stupid challenge, and consider what belly buttons are really for: they’re a reminder of the umbilical cord which once nourished us. Are you nourished and alive? Good.

Stop playing with your bellybutton then, and get on with your life.

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Would you try the bellybutton challenge? Tell us in the comments!

I failed the bellybutton challenge, and my bellybutton also looks like this because I've had a baby. And I'm proud!