You may have seen some of the women you’re following on Instagram posting black and white photos of themselves, with the hashtag #ChallengeAccepted. But what is it for, exactly? Most captions don’t explain much either. Some of them these posts talk about being seen and heard, others talk about female empowerment, and how it’s important for women to support women. The sentiment is great and all, but what is this hashtag challenge doing and what is the purpose? Here’s an explainer.

#ChallengeAccepted has been around since 2016

Taylor Lorenz, a journalist from The New York Times, did a little digging and found that this hashtag has been used to raise awareness for many causes, including cancer.


There were also comments on Instagram that #ChallengeAccepted was started by Turkish women to spark a conversation about the rise of femicide in Turkey. However, Taylor has tweeted that it is unrelated to the US’ version of the hashtag movement.


It may have something to do with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

According to the New York Times’ article, a social marketing expert said that the news of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaking up against Ted Yoho in Congress may have led to this recent wave of photos posted in solidarity with female empowerment.

Last week, Ted Yoho reportedly accosted Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the steps of the Capitol and called her a “f*cking b*tch” in front of the press. He addressed the incident on the floor of Congress and denied calling her that.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez then replied to his non-apology with an impassioned speech about not staying silent when facing abuse from men.

“…I have encountered this type of harassment riding the subway in New York City. This is not new. And that is the problem,” she pointed out.

“Mr. Yoho was not alone. He was walking shoulder to shoulder with Representative Roger Williams. And that’s when we start to see that this issue is not about one incident. It is cultural. It is a culture of a lack of impunity, of acceptance of violence and violent language against women, an entire structure of power that supports that.”

“He — in using that language, in front of the press, he gave permission to use that language against his wife, his daughters, women in his community, and I am here to stand up to say that is not acceptable.”

But how is a black and white photo helping, exactly?

The hashtag challenge is simple: just post a black and white photo of yourself, and nominate other women to do the same by tagging them. This has drawn criticism from some, because it seems like slacktivism – where it doesn’t take much effort to be “involved” and no concrete action is taken that contributes to the cause.


But hey, there’s something to be said for raising awareness as well. Maybe that black and white photo might be the reason for someone to read up more about femicide in Turkey, or watch AOC’s ten-minute speech about female empowerment. So… you do you, it’s just a black and white selfie at the end of the day.