If you’ve been on Instagram lately, you’ve likely seen an influx of black and white photos on your feed, and they’re mostly all photos of women. Why the sudden viral trend? Well, it depends on who you ask. Celebrities are boasting messages of female empowerment while activists are raising awareness for femicide and domestic violence against women in Turkey.
Truthfully, there are conflicting theories about the current trend’s origins. Celebrities helped popularize the “Challenge Accepted” trend by posting black and white photos of themselves. In their captions, they praised women and discussed female empowerment. Famous participants include Demi Lovato, Khloe Kardashian, Vanessa Bryant, and Kerry Washington.
The trend grew as they tagged their colleagues and friends to keep the momentum going. According to the New York Times, Instagram confirmed that the current trend of celebrity posts stemmed from Brazilian journalist Ana Paul Padrão, who also tagged “#womensupportingwomen.”
Not Just About Women Supporting Women
Despite celebrities using the trend to share positivity, activists are trying to use the trend to bring awareness to a much more grim issue. Turkish users began posting black and white photos last week to protest femicide and domestic violence. They were also posting to grieve the death of university student Pina Gültekin, who was reportedly murdered by her ex-boyfriend.
The Guardian reports that a 2009 study found 42% of Turkish women aged between 15-60 suffered some sort of domestic violence. In 2019, 474 women were murdered, mostly by relatives or partners. Following a decade of rising rates, last year topped with the highest number yet. And with reports of abuse increasing during coronavirus lockdowns, many expect it to keep growing.
Turkish social media users shared that they wake up to black and white photos of murdered Turkish women in media every day. Now, they are posting their own photos to stand in solidarity with the women lost to extreme violence.
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“Can’t fade your memory, dim your light. You’ve made a difference” Here is only a small portion of our fallen sisters. While it is important to acknowledge the femicides in Turkey, let’s make sure those women do not end up forgotten. Share their faces, share their names, share their stories. Be loud, raise awareness, make a difference. #istanbulsözleşmesiyaşatır #womensupportingwomen #challengeaccepted #mensupportingwomen #istanbulanlaşmasıyaşatır #kadıncinayetleri #kadıncinayetlerinidurduracağız #femicide #stopfemicide
Ongoing Issues With Trends and Activism
The current conversation around social media trends and activism is reminiscent of #BlackoutTuesday, a trend that was heavily scrutinized last month. Originally, activists organized the day to observe, mourn, and bring about policy change on Instagram in response to the death of George Floyd.
However, thousands of brands and individuals simply posted black squares, often populating the tag for #BlackLivesMatter with their posts. Some criticized the posts as performative activism, or posts that took up space on feeds without providing valuable resources, links to petitions, or information critical to the movement.
Whatever meaning people choose to go with, be it female empowerment or protesting violence against women, many are urging users to take things further than a single photo upload. Activists are encouraging those posting to also seek petitions, fundraisers, and more resources to educate.