A new viral weight-loss trend called the “Cinderella Challenge” is sweeping across social media, creating a frenzy of controversial responses to the new diet fad.
The unhealthy trend involves people calculating their “Cinderella goal weight,” so that they can try to slim down to the petite waistline of the fictional Disney character.
The craze is understood to have started in Japan and has now spread around the world, with young adults and teenagers particularly interested in the fad. The diet uses a mathematical formula to calculate Body Mass Index (BMI) that’s seeing increased popularity among young women and teenagers adopting extreme weight-loss measures to slim down.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Goal Weight is Determined By a Mathematical Formula Calculating Body Mass Index
According to Koreaboo, the Cinderella weight (in kilograms) is calculated by squaring a person’s height in meters and then multiplying that number by 18.
For example, if a woman is 5 feet, 2 inches tall, or 1.57 meters, her Cinderella weight would be: 1.57 x 1.57 = 2.46; 2.46 x 18 = 44.36 kilograms, or approximately 97 pounds. This would equal out to a BMI of just under 18, which the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services classifies as underweight.
The idea is for women to achieve the petite, slim-waisted Disney princess look, despite the significant health risks and warnings from dieticians and medical professionals.
For a few women, this might be natural, but for the majority it would only be achieved via extreme dieting which can be extremely dangerous.
2. The Cinderella Challenge Poses Threats to Health and Safety of Young Adults
According to The Daily Mail, dietitians are worried that the unrealistic expectations of the Disney-themed diet will not only romanticize unrealistic body proportions, but also encourage extreme dieting and eating disorders.
“When your BMI drops to 18, you’re at a seriously high risk of losing healthy function of your body,” Australian dietitian Lyndi Cohen told FEMAIL, according to The Daily Mail. “Restricting your diet to achieve this low weight is dangerous and you may feel lethargic, experience extreme mood swings, grow unwanted body hair, find it hard to socialize, be at risk of fainting and lose your period.”
Experts at the Japan Medical Association (JMA) recommend a weight that is 18% higher than the Cinderella Weight to be healthy, reports Koreaboo. JMA states that the ideal body weight in kilograms should be equal to their height in meters squared and multiplied by 22, according to Japan Today.
3. The Challenge Sparked Debates over Healthy Dieting and Body Image Disorders
The Twitter-sphere has been in a frenzy since the Cinderella Challenge went viral, with some people arguing how disgusting the trends is, and others arguing that the internet is “skinny-shaming” the women that are taking part in the challenge.
Some users mentioned that girls shouldn’t be comparing themselves to a fictional character and that Disney has been giving women Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) issues for decades.
Some users spoke of equating a goal weight to a standard of beauty that most people can’t ever come close to achieving, arguing that a diet that encourages you to be underweight is just short of an eating disorder.
Other users wondered why the desire to be skinny was such a bad thing, and accused the nay-sayers of thin-shaming petite women, or those who aspire to be skinny.
Still others argue that the BMI scale is questionable and outdated, and that the 200-year old method shouldn’t be a defining factor in health. An article published on Revelist lists a variety of sources that show there are more scientifically accurate ways of measuring your health including blood pressure, cholesterol levels, mental health and amount of physical activity in your life.
4. Experts Believe Fad Diets are a Warning Sign for Eating Disorders
Experts warn that social media trends and diet fads are a big, flashing warning sign for eating disorders and BDD.
“There is a very real chance that people can die from trying to achieve the Cinderella ideal,” Cohen said. She urged those intrigued by the challenge to seek help from a medical professional.
Dietitian Susie Burrell weighed in as well, stating that the diet was one of the most dangerous diets she had heard of.
“The unreasonable and largely unobtainable proportions would require severe starvation and largely promote disordered eating,” she said, reports the Daily Mail. “These are fictional characters and as such their body sizes and proportions are fictional.”
According to Beat, the main signs of an eating disorder, such as anorexia, include fear of fatness or pursuit of thinness, excessive focus on body weight and distorted perception of body shape or weight.
5. Lily James Also Created Controversy with Cinderella Waist in 2015 Live-Action Film
According to Business Insider, this isn’t the first time Disney’s Cinderella has caused controversy across the internet. In 2015, actress Lily James was accused of altering her waistline to look smaller for the live-action remake of the film.
Lily James denied the rumors, claiming that a combination of a corset and an overlarge skirt caused her waist to look smaller than it actually is.
“I have naturally quite a small waist,” James told ABC’s “Nightline” when asked about the rumor. “And on top of that I have a corset that was pulled me into the inch of my life … And then the skirt is so big that the perspective and the proportions make it look smaller than it is.”
According to Healthy Celeb, the actress weighs 121 pounds at her 5ft 7 frame — which is higher than most estimated Cinderella weights in the challenge.