The Viral Lipstick "Challenge" in China Shows How Absurd the Body Pressures Have Become

SHANGHAI — Social media can be a powerful tool for tackling body image issues, offering a more inclusive and personal platform than fashion magazines or reality TV.

But the reality, as we well know, is that the likes of Instagram are often used to spread harmful photos and ideas about body image that fetishize certain attributes — thigh gaps, tiny waists — and discourage any deviation from the Photoshop-perfect ideal.

This pressure is especially acute in China, where there is only one ideal to aspire to: skinniness. There's no Kardashian curves or Beyoncé booty here on social media. The drive is for all things petite, to the extent that any method of affirming thinness has appeal — even if it's wildly inaccurate and proves nothing whatsoever.

Enter China's latest "trend," which has seen girls all over the country uploading pictures of themselves applying lipstick with their arm twisted behind their heads to prove they have small faces.

No matter that achieving this feat probably has more to do with your flexibility (much like the "belly button challenge," which saw girls wrapping their arms around their backs to prove the size of their minuscule waists) — it's taken the Chinese internet by storm.

The trend is just the latest in a quick succession of social media skinny "tests": the iPhone 6 knee challenge that deemed any pair of legs wider than an iPhone 6 not skinny enough, and the A4 test that got users to prove their waists were slimmer than a piece of paper are just some examples.

This latest test, in which skinny pressure has migrated upwards (in what seems like a parody of the original challenges), only validates how absurd these tests are — and the tragic state of body image among young women who appear desperate to meet them.
"I might not have been able to do the A4 or iPhone challenges," wrote Weibo user June. "But putting on lipstick backwards I can do."

"I must prove my face is small," said user yomy_L with a photo showing her successfully completing the challenge.

"I failed the A4 waist, I failed the iPhone legs, I couldn't fail another challenge," said another.

As bizarre as this challenge might seem to Westerners, it fits right in with a uniquely Chinese beauty ideal. Chinese women don't just want slim bodies, they also like slender, "melon seed" faces in keeping with the country's beauty ideals.

This challenge and its predecessors — hiding behind sheets of paper, wrapping banknotes around your wrist — reflect the huge cultural pressure of Chinese women to look good, with their perceived prettiness impacting on every aspect of their lives, including their job prospects.

Caitlyn Jenner's MAC Lipstick Gets Stunning Instagram Reveal — And a Slew of Ugly Comments

After MAC Cosmetics announced it was collaborating with Caitlyn Jenner on a lipstick, news sites were quick to praise the company for its inclusive choice. Just as Make Up For Ever did with Andreja Pejic, MAC's decision is proof beauty brands are finally opening up their restrictive doors to feature transgender women.

Read more: This Transgender Model Called Out a Problem That Fashion Still Needs to Get Right
Fast-forwarding to today, MAC has made the Caitlyn Jenner Finally Free lipstick available for purchase and released a beautiful image of Jenner applying the shade to go with it. But with the release has come a heated comments section.

And, unsurprisingly, not all the commenters agree. While some of the conversation is essentially transphobia in action, much of the discussion touches upon what Jenner stands for politically. And even more comments show unabashed, positive support. Here's what one photo can engender:

1. Cue the transphobic haters.

Even though there's a growing acceptance and understanding of transgender identity, at least in the fashion and beauty industries with the rise of models like Pejic, Hari Nef and Valentijn De Hingh, the comments on this photo make it very clear there's still a long way to go.

Some comments on the photo include: "I don't wanna live on this planet anymore," "Not right at all...really Mac," "I was a big fan of MAC Cosmetics, after this I think I'm not anymore, you're making it ok to become a transgender to the young," and "Anyone can represent MAC now days."

Others specifically questioned Jenner's identity as a female, with comments like "Yeah, you go Bruce," "Couldn't have found a woman for this ad," "this is no woman," and "He was born a man and he stays a man, no surgery will change that."

2. There is real dislike for Jenner herself.

Jenner has gotten into some hot water for voicing her conservative Republican views, specifically the fact that she doesn't completely support gay marriage neither do the political candidates she supports. She is often criticized for not being the advocate for LGBT rights that everyone thought she would be.

Comments included, "Respect MAC and this initiative, but not this woman/man," "Well for one thing she already said she's voting for the winning GOP candidate in the elections. None of which support LGBT rights," and "She also still believes that gay marriages are wrong, also still Republican."

Oh, and "Caitlyn doesn't gaf about LGBT community."

Forget contouring! Kim Kardashian's make-up artist reveals SANDBAGGING is the latest technique - and it stops lipstick from smudging

She's the queen of contouring who showed us how to create flawless make-up and killer cheek bones by using shadowing and highlighting.
However, now Kim Kardashian is mooting a new technique - sandbagging - which she claims is the secret to long-lasting, non-smudge lipstick.
The reality TV star's make-up artist Mario Dedivanovic showcased the method in an Instagram post - and fans can't get enough.

Kim Kardashian is mooting a new technique - sandbagging - the secret to long-lasting, non-smudge lipstick

Mario Dedivanovic, Kim Kardashian's make-up artist, uses sandbagging to prevent Kim's lipstick from smudging or creasing. The powder absorbs any excess cream or oil and is brushed away afterwards
Mario reveals that the mother-of-two sweeps white powder across her mouth and cheeks, before applying her lipstick.

It is said to give the colour staying-power, and also means that it doesn't smudge when applied.
Mario then brushes the powder away, leaving Kim with perfect lips.

Instagram users responded positively to the photo, with one user saying: 'I need to learn this!' and another commenting: 'I can study her face for hours! Perfect.'
Other Instagram users have also begun using - and developing - the technique and posting photos of the effect.
Sandbagging involves dabbing heavy powder under the eyes and around the lips, applying the make-up and then brushing the powder away.

The technique has been adopted by other Instagram users, who post photos of the effect of sandbagging

While the amount of powder the technique uses may initially seem excessive, once it is brushed off the face it looks flawless
This prevents the oils and creams in the eye and lip make-up from moving - and should mean that they stay in place all day long.
It does exactly what real sandbags do: creates a barrier around an area to stop it from flooding.
Kim Kardashian's makeup artist Mario may not have created the technique, but he has succeeded in bringing it to the mainstream.
As it prevents make-up from creasing, it's perfect for him to use on the star for special occasions.

Sandbagging stops make-up from creasing, which help it to last longer and to not migrate down the face
Sandbagging is similar to the 'baking' technique, which involves using the heat of your face to 'cook' the make-up put on it by covering it in a thick laying of powder.
All you need to try sandbagging is loose powder, a make-up sponge and a brush.
Apply foundation and concealer as you normally would. The dab the edge of a make-up sponge into the powder and apply it heavily under your waterline and under your lips.