Women are comparing their body size to the width of paper

Mar 17, 2016 at 5:15 p.m. ET

For some reason, China continues to be the birthplace of the most unusual (and unnecessary) body challenges. First, there was the belly button challenge, where you prove how tiny your waist is by reaching around your back and somehow touching your belly button from the other side. However, once people realized that had more to do with flexibility than waist size, they moved onto something even weirder — the coin roll challenge.

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This one involves seeing how many coins you can successfully hold in that little dip at your collarbone. The absurd idea here is the skinnier you are, the more your collarbone sticks out, and the easier it will be for you to hold a roll of coins in that little skin pocket.

Finally, we come to the most recent, unnecessary body competition — the A4 waist challenge. All you have to do to play is hold a piece of A4 printer paper up to your waist lengthwise and see if your waist is smaller than the paper's width. This is half an inch narrower than the width of your basic printer paper, which has a width of 8-1/2 inches. Basically, you're just trying to prove you have the littlest, bittiest waist imaginable. If you manage to achieve said challenge, you're supposed to post a selfie of you doing it to #A4waist, cause hey, if you don't post it, it's like it never happened, right?


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Wait. Don't start running up and down your staircase just yet. You, too, can easily beat the A4 waist challenge in not one but two ways, and I'm going to show you how. Before I do so, full disclosure: I do not, nor have I ever had, a waist that was 8 inches wide (OK, maybe when I was a second-grader).

Image: Ally Hirschlag

Excuse the bunny on the floor... he's just resting. So how did she do it, you ask? Is she corset training? Does she have a magic button on her back that shrinks her waist five inches (if only)? Nope — she just knows a little bit about cameras and point perspective. See all you have to do to make it look as though you have an A4 paper-sized waist is move the paper further away from your body. That's a lot easier than starving yourself for the next week, huh? Here's the other way you can beat the challenge:

Image: Ally Hirschlag

Boom. Mike drop. And yes, that's my cat in the background. I was definitely able to bring the paper closer to my waist this time, but I'm also doing what I like to call the "Kim K nude selfie move," aka sticking my butt back behind me to make my waist appear longer. These challenges are much more fun when you try to beat them using humor and smarts rather than diets.

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But the most important message here is these body challenges are just dumb and shouldn't exist in the first place. What's the point of posting photos that make other people feel envious of your body and bad about their own? Thankfully, many are choosing to combat the absurdity rather than buy into it. You can too just by getting a little creative. Put the paper on top of your cat's waist, or around your thigh, or in front of a lamp stand to demonstrate the triviality of this challenge. If you do nothing else, remember this: