The Real Meaning of the #WomenSupportingWomen B&W Selfie Challenge

On Instagram over the last few days, we’ve seen a rush of black and white pictures of women with the accompanying hashtag #challengeaccepted and #womansupportingwoman. The idea of the posts has been to support the ‘sisterhood’, tagging female friends to do the same and encouraging women to support other women. Famous faces like Jennifer Anniston, Reese Witherspoon, Florence Pugh and Eva Longoria to name a few have been among those posting their own black and white pics. However, in all the hashtags and feminist empowerment, the true meaning of the viral campaign has been lost. It was started by Turkish women as a political message and frustration of always seeing black and white photos of Turkish women who have been killed.

View this post on Instagram

I noticed lots of people putting up beautiful black and white images of themselves yesterday as part of a challenge, then I started getting pings to say I had been nominated to do the same. I’m not too good with these sort of things so I refrained and dug a bit deeper to ask why there was this challenge, most people where not explaining why on their captions so I was confused, what’s it all about? It dawns on me that in the posting of all these beautiful pics the picture we should all really be posting in full colour imo is #pinargultekin who was brutally murdered in Turkey earlier this month. She is one of the people that inspired the #challengeaccepted movement as a tool to raise awareness of the increasing rates of female murders in the country >> 474 women killed last year and in the first six months of 2020, 146 women. #challengeaccepted isn’t about us per se it’s about acknowledging and honouring these women and lobbying the Turkish government to do more for and protect their female citizens, so thank you for the nominations, thank you for including me but I feel I should lift up Pinar instead, with all her beauty and vitality that the world has been denied. ♥️♥️♥️

A post shared by Dija Ayodele (@dija_ayodele) on

Initially, the political message was in response the Turkish Governments decision to withdraw from the Istanbul convention. The Istanbul Convention is a European treaty aimed at protecting women against violence. Recently Poland decided to leave the treaty and politicians in Turkey have been discussing withdrawing as well. This has alarmed women in the country, as there is a real problem with violence against women. The nation has one of the highest rates of femicide, and a deeply embedded culture of so called “honour” killings.  274 women were murdered by the partners of families in 2019 which was the highest in a decade (up 200% from 2013) and it is expected to rise after the lockdown. At least one woman is murdered in Turkey every single day. A mobile application called KADES, developed by the government to make the reporting of domestic violence easier, has recorded over 30,601 incidents in the past two years.

The hashtags that accompanied the initial movement were #kadınaşiddetehayır #istanbulsözleşmesiyaşatır which apparently translate to no violence against women and enforce the Istanbul Treaty / Doctrine. Unfortunately as it went viral, these hashtags were lost, and all that was left was #womensupportingwomen.

View this post on Instagram

Black and white selfies. It isn’t just a game of hot or not. Or an exercise in vanity. It is not just a mindless challenge that women are undertaking to post their sexiest snaps. These are some of the criticisms that this #challenge has faced. It is a very serious gesture of defiance in support of the Turkish Women (Turkey has one of the highest femicide rate), in support of Pinar Gultekin who was killed in the most violent manner, in support of every woman who has felt threatened and unsafe. This is show of solidarity to say that we stand together, we are unafraid, we are fed up of the lack of accountability for the perpetrators. This was started by Turkish women to say that they are appalled by the Turkish govt decision to withdraw from the Isanbul convention much like Poland. This is to say that no woman stands alone, we deserve to take up space, we are all #womensupportingwomen This is not just performative, this is hopefully not just tokenistic, this is for PINAR GULTEKIN. Say her name!! . (kindly tag me at the top if reposting) . #challengeaccepted . . . #pinargultekin #turkishwomen #westandtogether #domesticviolenceawareness #genderbias #genderinequality #shatterpatriarchy #blackandwhitephoto #selfie #womenempowerment #pınargültekin #empoweringwomen #genderequity #genderequalityforall #nooneisfreeuntileveryoneisfree #feminismisforeverybody #womenofcolor #turkishwomen #womenofcolour #kadinasiddetehayir #istanbulsözleşmesiyaşatır

A post shared by Dr Pragya Agarwal (@drpragyaagarwal) on

Instagram can be a great way to raise awareness to a cause, but not when the true meaning gets lost in people jumping on the bandwagon without taking the time to engage with the real issues. We’re all for women supporting women (shouldn’t that just be a given amongst us ladies by now?) but the only way to truly support this campaign is to raise awareness of these terrible issues, campaign, and donate. Sadly, as the trend grows, the new version takes over the hashtag. That doesn’t mean we should stop the challenge altogether, but if you have already posted, you could edit your post to adjusting your hashtags to reflect the true meaning, or if you are going to post, make sure you point to the issues facing women in Turkey.

“With this challenge we want to show our solidarity with all the Turkish women we have lost due to domestic violence. The Black and white pictures purely shows us that one day, it could be YOUR picture in the newspaper…”

View this post on Instagram

The True Meaning Behind The #blackandwhitechallenge... It originally started as a way to raise awareness on the high rates of femicide in Turkey. With this challenge we want to show our solidarity with all the Turkish women we have lost due to domestic violence. The Black and white pictures purely shows us that one day, it could be YOUR picture in the newspaper... Yes. It is truly sad to say that my homeland Turkey is nr. 1 in the Top 3 list countries when it comes to femicide. A total of 474 (!) women were killed in Turkey in 2019, a rise of 200% (!) since 2013. And they expect that the figures for 2020, with lockdowns due to corona and additional social and financial pressures, will be even higher. Since 2010, over 1000 (!) women have been officially killed due to domestic violence and it seems that our conservative government doesn't do anything to protect (potential) victims and besides that the predators are getting off with light sentences. Therefore protests have errupted all over my country... This B&W post is to say that women has to support each other. That NO woman stands alone! This post is for our 27 yo Pınar Gültekin (swipe to the right), who was horrifically murdered by her ex a few days ago so: SAY HER NAME! #pınargültekin #enoughisenough #saynotoviolence #kadınaşiddethayır #womenempoweringwomen #womenrights #femaleempowerment Source:

A post shared by @ posifitmom on


Share this story.

Go to Top