The Bikini Bridge to Nowhere

The latest trend in thinspiration turned out to be nothing but an Internet-made hoax. So why do we let ourselves get sucked in by the hype?

Silvia Boratti/Getty

#BikiniBridge is defined as when "bikini bottoms are suspended between the two hip bones, causing a space between the bikini and the lower abdomen.” In the past three days, the hashtag has been retweeted over 4,000 times. There’s even a Tumblr and countless Twitter accounts dedicated to the fad.

The latest “trend” in thinspiration, however, can also be defined as a major hoax.

The bikini bridge is, of course, already earning notoriety as the thinspo-trend of 2014, replacing last year’s obsession with the thigh gap. Yet while the thigh gap was a very real body image issue, the bikini bridge may not be.

4chan, a popular image-board site, has reportedly (and dangerously) initiated a ploy to explode the bikini bridge across the internet. The hoax, entitled "Operation Bikini Bridge" by an anonymous user, featured a fairly simple, two-phase plot.

Phase one emphasized the importance of producing and circulating images, thereby sparking both social and media outrage. "Create propaganda parading the 'bikini bridge' to be the next big thing (pic related — that read “If you have time to complain, you have time to train,” or “Getting a smoother tan line from your bikini bridge”). Circulate it throughout the internet. Simultaneously, we create reverse propoganda, denouncing the bikini bridge as an unhealthy obsession. This, too, we circulate throughout the internet."

The second phase followed suit, targeting those most susceptible to the trend — "After a fair amount of circulation has been accomplished," the user wrote, "we circulate the images throughout parts of the internet known to be biased on the subject of weight (i.e. thin privilege, fat shaming, etc.)."

And while many news outlets warned against the hoax – the Today Show’s headline read “Don't Fall for the 'Bikini Bridge' Prank the Internet is Playing on You,” while The Washington Post wrote “The 'Bikini Bridge,' 4chan’s Latest Prank, is Actually Pretty Dangerous” – it has also succeeded in 4chan’s wish of turning the bikini bridge into a desirable body trend.

One user posted a photo on Instagram of her pre-existing bikini bridge — deep enough to hold her iPod — writing “Apparently the thigh gap is so last year and its all about the bikini bridge this summer! Haters gonna hate,” followed by a series of hashtags: #hips #bikinibridge #fitness #tonned #thinsperation #fitsperation, to name a few. Another user tweeted, “The feeling I get when a belly gets in the way of a perfect #bikinibridge :( Guess there’s work for the new year! #thinspo #thinspiration.”

The fact that women are particularly vulnerable to body-image based trends, combined with the accessibility of social media, leads to the ability for these so-called trends to explode. It's an even more frightening reality that within mere hours, a new idea of how we want our bodies to look can take off.

"Thanks to social media, it's easy for something like this to become a trend so quickly and it's just another example of the objectification of women and their bodies," Louise Adams, a clinical psychologist who specializes in eating disorders and body image told The Sydney Morning Tribune. "Social media creates competitiveness between other women. We know this largely effects younger women and this is exactly who is using these sites. This is a generation who has grown up with social media and at the same time, eating disorder figures have doubled."

Isn't it hard enough dealing with the thigh gap, exposed collar bones, and skinny arm trends? Do we really need to add a bikini bridge to the mix?