It’s called the bikini bridge and it’s leaving even more damage in its wake.
A girl is lying on a pink towel on the beach. She decides to snap a selfie, so she directs the camera down her tummy, straight at her bikini bottoms. The angle highlights the stretch of her bikini material from jutting hip bone to jutting hip bone and the space it has created between her tummy and bikini. Somewhere in the background is the ocean. She’s tags the photo #Bikinibridge and uploads it.
This is the sixth photo of its kind to pop up on my Instagram feed. It’s the latest selfie craze, riding on the coat tails of the ‘box gap’ and it’s just as dangerous. While the box gap celebrated those genetically predisposed to a large gap between their thighs, the bikini bridge is all about protruding hip bones, leading to women taking dangerous risks with their health to achieve the same look.
So how did something so damaging become a thing? Believe it or not, it’s thanks to a bunch of guys. Several contributors to popular blogging website 4Chan wanted to create a fad to prove our generation’s predilection of jumping on any and every trend. They found photos of girls in bikinis, put comments like ‘they called me fat, so I built a bridge and got over it’ and ‘bridge the gap’. They created a blog post, a Tumblr feed and a Twitter account. They even photoshopped celebrity tweets to make users think celebs such as Harry Styles, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry endorsed the trend.
With an average 22.5 million unique visitors to 4Chan a month, the trend spread like wildfire. Currently, there are over 3000 photos tagged #bikinibridge on Instagram, 25,000 hashtags #bikinibridge on Twitter, with one account BikiniBridge having almost 60,000 followers.
This wouldn’t be such a big deal if the hoax didn’t have such serious health repercussions. The bikini bridge trend supports unrealistic ideas of what a perfect body is, leading to dangerous weight loss for women.
Eighteen year-old University student Melissa Wilson said that many of her friends were skipping lunch at University in order to achieve the bikini bridge. “Seeing these bodies on my feed makes me think they’re better and I know many girls would do almost anything to have their body look the same,” she says.
This is what worries Sarah Spence from The Butterfly Foundation for Eating Disorders. “This trend reinforces a viewpoint that we need to look a certain way,” says Sarah “Women who may already have a negative body image see these fads on social media and feel they need to look that way to be accepted.”
The consequences of dieting to achieve a bikini bridge cannot be underestimated. “Each body is built differently and to force that build to dramatically change through starvation or extreme measures may cause serious health problems in the future,” warns Sydney doctor, Misha Roberts. “I don’t recommend anyone lose weight in order for their hip bones to protrude.”
Myla Orang, a 21-year-old student agrees. “It’s unrealistic and harmful,” she says. “I hope women realise that these images we see on the Internet aren’t healthy. Girls need to stick together and send messages of empowerment and strength to one another, and show the world that we are confident in our own beauty and what we have to offer.” – Brianna Hetherington
Top Photo: From Bikini Bridge’s Facebook page.