Preservation of Singapore’s Historical Sites

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Under the guise of land shortage and the rising demand for developments to fulfil the needs of a growing population, many historical landmarks around Singapore that are reminiscent of our shared local heritage have been swept aside ruthlessly to make way for new projects that will continually urbanise our garden city. Yet, the last of these monuments that signify the era that has long passed are not spared a thought for in this crazed pursuit of modernisation. Admittedly, Singapore has to continue developing its scarce lands to flourish and maintain its much admired global status as a highly liveable city in this competitive 21st century.However, it pains me to see how historically significant places in Singapore are disregarded despite their rich heritage, and realising that I cannot prevent the demolitions.

 

For instance, Rochor Centre, an iconic rainbow-coloured HDB estate, was slated to be demolished in September 2016 to make way for the 21.5 km long North-South Expressway. Residents bid a heartfelt farewell around the end of last year to the estate they have lived in for most of their lives and closely identified with. Uniquely constructed, Rochor Centre has a common courtyard-like space right in the middle of the centre that is towered by a few housing blocks, which has allowed residents to interact freely with one another over the years and forge a strong sense of camaraderie and kampong spirit amongst their neighbours. Being one of the oldest public housing estates in the city district, it is no surprise that old coffee shops and shops selling pots, pans, plates and other knick-knacks are located on the first storey to serve the residents’ needs.

 

Rochor Centre is merely one of Singapore’s vanishing spaces – one more crushed building block that had melded Singapore’s identity, and one more rip in the fabric of our history. Others like the Old National Library, with its distinct brick-red British infrastructure, the Van Cleef Aquarium and the National Theatre have been demolished eons ago, and the lack of sentimentality the younger generation who have never heard of these places possess only demonstrates clearly how the demolition has almost entirely erased them from our shared memories. Nonetheless, conservation efforts have been made by the government, albeit only in certain cases, specifically the Capitol Building and Cathay Cinema. They may not have been wholly preserved, but at least relics of some semblance has been left behind in remembrance of their historical quality, and for these little mercies, I am hopeful that all hope is not lost.

Chloe Kho (3T)

Dialects

The more one learns dialect words, the less space there is for Mandarin words or English words, or multiplication tables or formulas in mathematics, physics or chemistry.”

– (Speech on ‘Mandarin must replace dialects as the mother tongue’ on 25 October 1981, by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce 1991)

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Do any of you know how to speak dialect? Even if you do, do you know how to speak them fluently? The founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew discouraged the usage of dialects as he felt that learning dialects would minimize the space in the brain to learn English, Chinese and Mathematics. After the “Speak Good Mandarin” campaign, his point was brought across, and the usage of dialects decreased rapidly. Although many parents do know how to speak dialect, they hardly use it in front of their children.

 

There is a huge variety of dialects such as Hokkien, Teochew, Hakka and so on. Although Mr Lee Kuan Yew discouraged Singaporeans from speaking dialects, I feel that learning dialect has its benefits. For instance, learning dialects can patch up the ever growing communication gap between the young and the elderly. The older generation of Singapore grew up speaking dialect, some of them do not know how to speak English. This creates frustration between the 2 generations for they are not able to understand each other. In some situations, the confusion will lead to misunderstandings, creating tensed relationships between a grandparent and grandchild. If only we knew how to speak dialect, wouldn’t it be great to hold an actual conversation with your loved one? I believe that learning how to speak dialect will strengthen family bonds.

 

Dialects arrived in the early days of Singapore when the settlers arrived on our island’s shores to make a living. It is imprinted deep into our history and when a person recalls the past with its constant usage of dialect, they feel a sense of belonging. It would be a shame for such an important part of our history should go extinct. Without dialects, we probably wouldn’t have the Singapore that we have today. I feel that dialects are imprinted deep into our history and we shouldn’t let something so significant go missing. It would be as though a part of Singapore died.

 

Even though I agree that we shouldn’t let dialects die out, I am not saying that we should make learning dialects part of our main curriculum. For those who truly want to learn dialects, I feel that the Ministry of Education should provide an additional course for it. It would be an optional course that is similar to learning 3rd languages.

 

With so many dialects, I feel that it would be an interesting to learn them with their rich history and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with mastering it. Surprisingly, it is not the elderly who are trying to bring back dialects, but the younger generation. They object to letting this colourful part of our history dying out and have started taking the initiative to bring them back. Some create online tutorial videos on learning the language while others try to communicate with their grandparents in dialects as much as they can.

 

Although dialects are on the brink of extinction, I am sure that we can bring them back with enough effort. Dialects should stay and we should not let any campaigns or opinions take them away from us.

Rachel Goh

S2P

References:

The Death of Dialects in Singapore

http://news.asiaone.com/news/asian-opinions/are-dialects-dying-out

http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2013/03/30/reintroduce-dialects-singapore/

Materialism

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Prada. Chanel. Louis Vuitton. These are the high-ends brands that kids and adults yearn to own. We live in a society obsessed with branded goods and it never seems to be satisfied with what it has and all it wants are things, things and more things.

 

My friend came up to me recently, showing me a new pair of sunglasses that she convinced her mum to buy for her because her old ones ‘didn’t look good anymore’ and the first thing she said was “Guess how much they are?”. Does it even matter?

 

Materialism is a rising concern that the world can never find a solution to. People are getting more inclined to a materialistic lifestyle and are focusing more on achieving a better lifestyle in monetary terms. Our materialistic lifestyle is the result of us, mankind seeking to satisfy our desires and finding happiness in obtaining items of our desires.

 

Here are 3 reasons why our modern society is materialistic:

  1. Fitting in

The urge to fit in is especially prevalent among teenagers. Not only is it among teenagers, it is also a sad reality across all age groups. These people feel the need to be accepted in a social circle and this surfaces in the need of being appropriately dressed in the office and in the form of peer pressure in college.

    2) Uniqueness

If we purchase a non-branded bag, chances are we are going to see a dozen others carrying the same bag, then that bag is no longer in a sense ‘unique’ anymore. However, on the other hand, if we purchase a branded bag, odds are that it is one of the few pieces in the market. Therefore, purchasing high-ends brands ensures consumers exclusivity and rarity so the need to be different from others is one of the reason why we cluster towards branded goods.

   3) Social status

Today, in our society, we are often judged by what we wear or what we use, and this defines our social status. Wearing a dress from a well-known fashion designer or donning an eye-catching million dollar diamond necklace, put us in the limelight. As shallow as it sounds, it is unfortunately true. Wearing famous brands speaks of affluence and high social status, hence, this is another reason why people flock towards branded goods.

 

We are taught through media that the only way to be happy is to make a lot of money, travel the world and having the best and newest clothes and accessories. At first, money and wealth do bring happiness but this joy does not last forever. I strongly believe that the next evolutionary step that man should take, should not be a physical change in appearance, but rather a mental change in our egos so that we will move past materials and towards being appreciative of what we have.

 

Ming Ting

3Unity

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

To most of us, we use the term “OCD” very lightly in Singapore – we joke about it, we laugh it off people’s phobia of being dirty and we label just about any other people’s tendency of double checking and overly liking cleanliness as “OCD”. However, little do we know that we making fun of people who really have OCD, since we are mimicking people who have some form of mental illness.

“OCD” stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a mental disorder characterised by uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts (obsessive) that occur over and over in the mind and repetitive, ritualized behaviours (compulsive) that sufferers feel compelled to perform to reduce the anxiety felt due to the obsession.

People who suffer from OCD usually fall into one of these few categories: washers who are afraid of contamination, checkers who repeatedly check things, doubters who are worry if things aren’t done perfectly, counters and arrangers who are obsessed with order and symmetry, and hoarders who fear something bad may happen if they threw things away.

Common symptoms, among many, include the fear of being contaminated by germs, fear of losing or not having things that might be needed, having the idea that everything must line up “just right”, excessive double-checking of things and accumulating “junk” such as old newspapers.

Singapore is the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder capital of the world. Higher rates of the illness are being reported here as compared to the United States or Europe. OCD was ranked as one of the top 3 most common mental-health disorders in Singapore, with both adults and children and teenagers alike having the condition. Yet, it was found that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder had a poorer recognition as compared to alcohol abuse, dementia and depression (since the condition often goes undiagnosed). There was also considerable personal stigma towards the mental illness, the common perceptions being that the problem is a “sign of personal weakness”, that those with mental health issues could get better “if they wanted to”, and people with such disorders are “unpredictable”.

Actually, many famous people and celebrities too suffer from OCD. Some of the famous ones who reveal their symptoms include Hollywood star Cameron Diaz who prefers to open doors with her elbows instead of using doorknobs; soccer player David Beckham who will re-arrange hotel furniture if it is not to his liking and infamous American president Donald Trump who is afraid of shaking hands with people, teachers in particular (He claims that teachers have 17,000 germs per square inch on their desks as justification for this behaviour.). These people might have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but they didn’t let it stop them from getting in the way of their careers and from being successful. I feel that this is commendable, since OCD happens on impulse, and it can be burdensome and exhausting at times.

Though we may not be able to do anything large-scaled to improve the situation of people with OCD, I feel that we can start by doing simple acts such as not poking fun at people who have OCD, and not having any social stigma against people with mental illnesses in general. I think that we should also be -more encouraging towards them, instead of shying away or holding grudges towards them – it may be imposing on us, but it is far more frustrating on them, hence I feel that we should have more empathy and try to help them be more inclusive and integrated into our society.

Germaine Lee (4T)

Sources:

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/call-for-greater-support-as-more-in-singapore-suffer-anxiety-illness

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/obssessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd.htm

http://www.newhealthguide.org/Famous-People-With-Ocd.html

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/more-awareness-of-mental/2170996.html

Opinions on Society : The Influence of KPOP

In a world where music makes a huge impact in our lives, from the friends we make to even our personal beliefs, the rapid spread of the Korean Pop culture, not only nationally but globally, plays a big part in everyone’s lives. Almost everyone knows about Kpop and more or less listens to Kpop music like the greatest hit Gangnam Style that took the world by storm, and this ironically stirs up the debate of the influence Kpop brings about to society – the good and the bad.

To say that Kpop is a bad influence is not a fair statement, but it applies aptly to fans who are overly addicted and engrossed beyond the music. Even to the little things like the idols’ personal life – which entirely defeats the true purpose of Kpop music, such that their lives revolve only around the kpop idols’.  This may lead to Kpop being a huge distraction especially for students who leads to dire consequences academically. This is exactly why Kpop has been deemed to be a ‘taboo’ for most parents. As mentioned earlier, these days, fans are no longer in the culture of Kpop just purely for the music but much more beyond that – they idolise the bands so much so that huge amounts of money are involved, on buying idol merchandise like posters, photocards to name a few. , not forgetting the fact that the prices of Kpop albums and concerts are increasingly high these days due to the growing popularity of the Kpop culture. Having money involved is certainly one of the negative influences Kpop has brought about.

As a fan of Kpop myself, I do feel that Kpop does bring about a positive impact on its listeners . Firstly, Kpop music is really powerful in the sense that the genre of music can range from ballad to rock, depending on individual singers/bands This is exactly one of the reasons I feel is commendable. Almost everyone can appreciate Kpop music regardless of preference as there is always a suitable type of everyone. Secondly, besides the idols’ good looks and physique, fans learn about the difficulties and challenges the idols’ face behind all the fame and fortune. Being a Kpop idol in Korea is no easy feat – it takes years of training without even knowing whether there is even a chance of debut. Besides, competition is tight in the Kpop music industry globally with many rookie groups struggling to make their name. Hence, being able to understand what’s going on behind every idols’ path to success allows fans to adopt a positive mindset and the virtue of perseverance and holding on to their dreams. I also feel that through Kpop, people are able to experience and explore a different culture and a whole new set of beliefs. Kpop has also played a big part in broadening one’s horizons in the sense that we are able to make new friends through a similar taste in music – Kpop in this case and adopting a larger social circle.

Rachael Fong

2L

Feminism

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What is feminism? According to Google, it is the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. Today, there are many feminists out there who are determined to promote equal opportunities for women in education and employment. Feminist movements are campaigning for women’s right such as right to work, equal wage as men, right to vote and to have maternity leave. Feminists also worked to protect girls and women from rape and sexual harassment.

It is a clear biological fact that men are born with a stronger build than women however, women should not be deemed as ‘weak’ and ‘incapable’ because of that. Feminists do not strive to become men. Being equal does not mean being identical. Both men and women should be given equal rights despite inherent differences.

Many celebrities are not afraid to call themselves feminists. One such example would be Beyonce. She wrote an entire essay on gender equality after the Shriver Report found that 42 million women in the United States are either living in poverty or are on the brink of living in poverty. “Humanity requires both men and women, and we are equally important and need one another. So why are we viewed as less than equal? These old attitudes are drilled into us from the very beginning. We have to teach our boys the rules of equality and respect, so that as they grow up, gender equality becomes a natural way of life. And we have to teach our girls that they can reach as high as humanly possible.”

Personally, I find that feminism is relevant to today’s context because it limits a person’s life. If today, women in some parts of the world can wear what they want, can earn a living, can go out of their houses, have the right to vote, are not treated like properties of men, then it is thanks to the feminists out there who thought it was worthwhile to raise the voices of women and represent women and fight for a cause that they believe strongly in. Feminism has established and achieved many goals as of today and most of the things on the female agenda have been accepted as national legal requirements and some even as international human rights.

Women and men should be treated equally in every aspect. Women are in no way inferior to men.

Ming Ting

2L

Opinions on society: Technology

We live in an urbanized society, where our lives undeniably revolve around technology and depend on them, as if they are indispensable to whatever we do. The simplest tasks we do seem to be impossible to complete without a little assistance from Siri, or a quick search on Google. Well, after all, everything is just at our fingertips and gaining information quickly certainly isn’t a problem. Need to find out which Chinese restaurant to patronize on our next date? Or maybe the results from the recent football match we’d missed? Simply posing a question to the iPhone genius Siri or browsing the web will answer our queries. Things are heating up in the tech world with the amazing inventions of Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, bringing users the benefits of not having to messily ruffle through our wallets to fish out the credit card for payments. The function stores all our credit card information and value inside the device, thus we can simply tap our phones to make purchases. One way would be through the Touch ID, which requires fingerprint verification to activate it. In a nutshell, it boasts a safe and secure way of payment that has never been more convenient.

Who wouldn’t be in awe of such technological advancements? Back in the late 2000s, everyone was in envy of any lucky soul who had their hands on the first iPhone ever. Now, it is the norm to possess a mobile phone. These inventions greatly benefit not only us, but the society too. Technology is so prominent in many fields, and it saves time and effort for everyone. Personally, I think the integration and utilisation of technology into society is great. Society nowadays is so fast-paced with such creations, but the invention of technology has also brought much harm to our society. I spot teenagers glued to their screens on full-focus mode instead of conversing with their family over meals, I spot ignorant commuters too busy playing games to notice the poor old lady in need of a seat. The dark side of technology is bringing detriment to our society.

I won’t lie. At times, I hope our society was less dependent and addicted to technology when I see what harmful effects it has. The anonymity of our online selves offer a great breeding platform for romance scammers and paedophiles. What has the society become? I am afraid of the day where our society is overly-dependent on technology to the extent where we refuse to complete tasks without technology. If only our society could look up from their screens more to see the bigger picture, sacrificing a few minutes of game time on their phones wouldn’t kill too. We shouldn’t let technology control our society, it is the other way around. Our society should be an independent one, one that is able to perform even in the absence of technology.

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Emma Ho

1 Wisdom

The Good Side of Social Media

Social media are computer-mediated tools that allow people, companies and other organisations to create, share, or exchange information, career interests, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks. There have been many articles about how social media is bad for teenagers, how it distances them from their family and friends, and how it makes them less sociable. However, is social media really such a bad thing? Although the anonymity online may bring out the ugliness in people, many acts of kindness have been documented and shared widely on social media, a refreshing change from the nasty hate posts.

Some examples:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BHTvgCoBwmJ/?hl=en

https://www.instagram.com/p/BFfik8itL7O/?hl=en

http://www.stomp.com.sg/singapore-seen/get-inspired/thank-you-reservist-officer-your-encouraging-words-my-son-yishun-open

Social media has become a more widely used platform for users to share their own, or even witnessed good deeds. Over the past couple of years, the number of people using common social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram has increased drastically. Not only have teenagers and adults have taken to using these convenient methods to share about their day, other users include the elderly as well! With this increasing audience, it is no wonder how inspiring posts can create a large impact.

Netizens have expressed a collective approval at such posts online, indicating how they are welcomed and how they may even become popular in the near future. Personally, I have experienced kind acts from complete strangers and without hesitation, I have quickly typed out paragraphs about them and shared them on Instagram, prompting my friends to comment things like “That’s amazing!” and “That’s really touching.”.

According to the Straits Times, the growing number of such positive posts could indicate the social media landscape becoming more mature, and people are moving away from just posting videos of wrongdoings. Many acts of kindness may not be featured in mainstream media and it is a good thing that many Singaporeans are taking the initiative to post about them on their social media accounts, ensuring that others know about them.

I feel that posting about good deeds online is an effective way to express appreciation and to remind and inspire others to carry out their own acts of kindness. In a way, it generates social pressure to be just like the people featured in these posts. Social media can be a very powerful medium to influence others to do good, especially when celebrities and others with a large online following share about issues present in today’s society. I believe with this method, the negativity online will be washed out by the surge of positivity. What are you waiting for? Make a change today!

Sources:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/a-kinder-gentler-social-media

 

Jocelyn Lim (3 Justice)

Doors of Society

Society is like a room with many doors, each door leads to a different side, a different view, giving us different opinions of the world.

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Door 1:

The first door is bright and shining, it stands high above the others. Door one, the door of pride. Beyond that door, is the bright endless sky, hanging with countless hot air balloons. Those balloons seemed to carry people’s hopes, dreams and ambitions to another level. Stationed one by one along the way, are places balloons can rest, those places are where our achievements reside, or when someone is contented enough and has reached his goal, the balloon will come to rest.

Door 2:

The second door has varying sizes. Depending on its owner , it can be large, medium or small. When this door is swung open, we are greeted by our own little desires. This is the place where our dreams materialise, our own little world, changing to suit our needs. Door two, our own little world.

Door 3:

As we approach door number three, we feel the warmth and happiness of life. This door is warm and inviting. As we swing it open, we are embraced by many pairs of hands. These hands belong to those that we call friends. We come to this door when we feel troubled, and take a stroll through the comforting presence of our friends. This becomes a part of society that we cannot miss.

Door 4:

A door that was warmer than the first, here behind the door, we find our own little space. The place we are all most familiar with, the place that we call home. In this home, we find our family. They care for us, and help us. Family provides a sense of belonging and comfort. When we are lost, they guide us. The Door that leads to home.

Door 5:

The fifth door. Slightly small and dark, the door that we tend to stay away from, yet tempted by it, we stray from the path. What it holds is our small selfish desires, the temptation to take something that does not belong to us.

Door 6:

Slowly, the darker side of society is approached, and we are presented with a darker door, the side that judges us according to our looks. If you’re reserved and quiet, you’re emo. If you’re open and expressive, you’re attention hungry. If you don’t compliment yourself, you’re begging for compliments. If you do compliment yourself, you’re full of yourself. If you’re unique, you’re weird. If you’re normal, you’re boring. This is the part of life that no one can avoid, after all, everyone is selfish.

 

Door 7:

Door seven, a bright blue door, layered with streaks of colours. Behind this door lies the world of cyberspace, where every person is connected by small invisible threads. Some of the connections are cut while some stay strong for a lifetime. Cyberspace is a neutral area, what becomes of a person’s space is dependent on himself or herself. We can choose to reveal ourselves and make a few more friends, or we hide behind a man-made mask, choices lead to different consequences. Door 7, the internet.

 

Ironic how it’s hard to find ourselves in a world so centered around perfection, when in reality imperfection is what defines us, funny how we think about things differently even though we are all similar. Life is what defines us.

-Stephanie Guan Xin (3U)

Do Bizarre Challenges Really Measure Your Beauty?

Society perceives women to be beautiful based on ideal, unrealistically high expectations such as having a slim body type, being tall, having a face free of wrinkles, and long flowy hair. In this technological age, trending hashtags and challenges on social media spread word like wildfire – challenges that have gone viral worldwide via social media platforms include the A4 waist challenge, the belly button challenge, the collarbone challenge, the thigh gap challenge, and the iPhone legs challenge, as users sought to prove their beauty to others. These bizarre challenges are used as an indicator and a form of affirmation of one’s beauty. Nonetheless, hidden beneath the seemingly harmless intent of these challenges, is a potentially harmful and even life-threatening impact on those with low self-esteem. Many feel so poorly about their body image that they succumb to dieting, and eventually end up anorexic, some even committing suicide. Unconvinced about the irrationality of these challenges? Perhaps my explanation of the challenges will change your mindset towards these “innocent” challenges.

The A4 waist challenge, the most recent trend that started from China, is called the “A4 challenge” after the standard paper size that’s just 21cm (8.3in) across. It sees challengers who are mostly women hold up a sheet of A4 paper to their waist and taking a selfie to post on their social media feed. If the paper entirely obscures their waist, they are deemed successful. The belly button challenge, which is also fixated on one’s waist, or in actuality, the flexibility of one’s arms, challenges netizens to touch their belly button by reaching behind their back and around their waist. A challenge dominated by many female users, it spawned 104,000 active discussion threads on Weibo. This alarming figure raises concerns about the unhealthy body image it promotes. The collarbone challenge is yet another trend that is supposedly meant to showcase one’s prominent collarbone, a sought-after feature that makes one look more ‘attractive’. The challenge is to balance coins above your collarbone to see how many you can stack without the whole row toppling over. The number of coins that can be balanced on your collarbone is then taken as an indicator of how prominent your collarbone is.

The thigh gap challenge, which highlights the presence of a thigh gap or lack thereof as a indicator of one’s body weight – lacking this gap is believed to be a sign of obesity. However, based on medical science, the thigh gap is not directly related to body weight. Rather, it is merely a quirk of one’s body shape due to the wideness of one’s hips. Nonetheless, this misleading trend only serves to lower the self-esteem of those who do not have a thigh gap, influencing many to go on crash diets that might eventually cause them to become anorexic due to their obsession with body weight. The most recent challenge, the iPhone legs challenge, uses one’s knees as an indicator of their figures. To successfully pass this challenge, an iPhone 6 placed across one’s knees has to fully cover them. As an iPhone 6 is only 5.44 inches in height, the width of both knees would thus be unable to exceed this. Sounds like these trends are becoming increasingly ridiculous, doesn’t it?

In our desperation to meet society’s idealistic expectations of beauty, we have been blinded to the facts and However, is it really fathomable to measure one’s beauty through such ridiculous indicators? Having a non-existent thigh gap, or being unable to stack coins on your collarbone is not something you should be ashamed of. After all, as cliché as it may seem, beauty is indeed in the eyes of the beholder. Apart from one’s outer appearance, one’s character and personality is what truly defines who you are, and should, in fact, be what draws the friends you have, not your looks. The next time another body-shaming trend spreads, think through it logically before deciding whether or not to attempt the challenge and post a selfie of your success on social media, spreading the word to your peers. After all, why would you want to participate in a challenge that promotes skinny body types and anorexia, and even boosting its outreach to more of the online community?

Chloe Kho (2P)

References:

It’s Time To Forget The ‘Thigh Gap’

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/health-fitness/news/a42195/everyone-is-taking-the-collarbone-challenge/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/peoplesdaily/article-3513599/The-beauty-challenge-KNEE-New-trend-sees-thousands-women-measuring-width-legs-iPhone-6.html