A campaign purported to be about ‘women supporting women’ is flooding people’s Instagram feeds with striking, if opaque, imagery as we speak.
But this is not the first time Instagram users have leveraged black-and-white photos in support for a cause. Back in 2016, monochromes with the hashtag #ChallengeAccepted were meant to spread cancer awareness. Over the years the trend started being used to spread positivity according to The New York Times.
The incident that triggered the latest challenge, however, was the killing of Pinar Gutelkin, a 27-year-old woman who was reported missing and was then found dead in the woods in Turkey’s southwestern Mugla province earlier this month. She was allegedly killed by her jealous ex-boyfriend, who first strangled and then tried to burn her. When he couldn’t, he reportedly stuffed her body in a barrel which he then filled with concrete.
The incident is the latest addition to the rising atrocities against women in Turkey – which activists are dubbing as a Turkish 'femicide', according to Tribune India. Thus, what has now been turned into a light-hearted expression of female solidarity in America was originally, in Turkey, a campaign inspired by both the soaring rates of violence against women and the brutal murder of the young girl.
After seeing the diluted message that her “international friends” were posting online as part of the #womenempowerment hashtag, one Turkish Twitter user named @imaann_patel attempted to explain the somber origins and meanings of the original challenge.
She wrote, “Turkey is one of the top countries when it comes to femicides. Most often the murderers barely get a slap on a wrist or no charges at all. Our government is trying to abolish certain aspects of the Istanbul Convention which is a human rights treaty that protects women against domestic violence. Turkish people wake up every day to see a black and white photo of a woman who has been murdered on their Instagram feed, on their newspapers, on their TV screens. The black and white photo challenge started as a way for women to raise their voice. To stand in solidarity with the women we have lost. To show that one day, it could be their picture that is plastered across news outlets.”
New York Times reporter Tariro Mzezewa confirmed this on Twitter after speaking to women in Turkey directly.
Women from all walks of life are posting photographs taken from flattering angles, accompanied by benign captions to promote the cause. “Love this simple way to lift each other up. #challengeaccepted.” model Cindy Crawford posted on Monday with a monochrome picture of herself taking stroll along the beach.
Pakistani singer and former Battle of the Bands judge Meesha Shafi also added a black and white image of herself with her bowed down in respect coupled with the hashtag.
Whereas Bollywood star Katrina Kaif took to Instagram and coupled her monochrome post with the caption, “So grateful for the inspiration and support from all the women around me.” She further nominated Anushka Sharma and Kareena Kapoor.
Actor Janhvi Kapoor also joined the millions of women from across the globe and posted a black-and-white picture of herself. She simply used the hashtag #challengeaccepted and nominated Shahid Kapoor’s wife Mira Rajput, former actor and now Vogue stylist Anaita Shroff among others.
Bhumi Pednekar, too, uploaded a gorgeous black and white picture and wrote: “Love, support, be kind and fly high #ChallengeAccepted.”
Whereas Sara Ali Khan, Taapsee Pannu, Bipasha Basu, Malaika Arora, Karishma Kapoor among others simply accepted the challenge whilst nominating others.
So far more than 5 million photos have been uploaded with the #ChallengeAccepted hashtag on Instagram and many more have appeared without it.
“The trend is still picking up with usage of the hashtag on Instagram doubling in the last day alone,” an Instagram spokeswoman said on Monday. “Based on the posts, we’re seeing that most of the participants are posting with notes relating to strength and support for their communities.”
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