[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]esterday evening I was having a drink at the café with my love. Two guys were sitting at the table next to us and I clearly heard what their conversation was about. I couldn’t help following their conversation after I heard them talk about the ‘bikini bridge’. I understood they found it sexy, but to be very honest: it gave me a knot in my stomach. So I decided to share my thoughts about this phenomena on my blog today.
Only when the bones stick out
If you don’t know what the bikini bridge is, I will try to explain in my own words and how I look at it. It is a girl-thing in which mainly adolescent girls, but also young women (I have never seen guys do this) take a picture of the front of their bikini bottoms from an angle that shows the gap between their hip bones. Not every woman or girl has a gap like that; the gap is only visible if the hip bones stick out far enough, which usually only happens if someones weight is very low. The picture is uploaded on social media like Instagram or Tumblr with the hashtag #bikinibridge.
The bikini bridge phenomena is quite similar to the longer existing thigh gap phenomena, in which pictures of the gap between girl’s and women’s (maybe also guy’s, just not that I know of) thighs is shared on Instagram and Tumblr with the hashtag #thighgap. In most situations it is only possible to have a thigh gap when the weight is very low. In both the bikini bridge and thigh gap situation it is not uncommon that other hash tags like #thinspiration and #thinspo are included; tags that used to belong to pro-ana sites.
It disturbed me when I saw that the amount of these kind of pictures increased, these hash tags become more popular and #bikinibridge (and #thighgap) pictures went viral on Instagram and Tumblr accounts with misleading names that in the first instance seem to promote health. It also disturbed me that while 10 years ago these pictures appeared on pro-anorexic sites, they now seem overly present at popular mainstream websites for adolescent girls as a positive attribute. Moreover, I was surprised that although research done by an eating disorder clinic and carried out among the visitors of a popular mainstream website for young girls revealed shocking results regarding mental health and eating habits (21% experiences stress when at the end of the day they have not had incorporated enough nutrients, 20% obsesses about eating etc.) as a result of visiting that particular website earlier this week, there seems to be no moderation or intention to moderate.
Dangers of the bikini bridge (and thigh gap)
I find the bikini bridge (and thigh gap) trend a very dangerous one, as it promotes a thin type of body*, incites to extreme weight loss and primarily seems to exist among vulnerable adolescents and teen girls. During my study I have done research on this topic. I have learned that the thin body ideal promoted by the media is associated with the development of disordered eating and eating disorders among adolescents and young women. This was at the time that Instagram didn’t exist yet, so I have never read something about the affect of Instagram thinspo on eating behavior among these groups. I am sure though that if this would be tested, the effect would be negative.
I call everyone to not take part in this trend by not liking pictures with these hashtags (# bikinibridge, thinspo, thinspiration and thighgap). You could also unfollow accounts that use these hashtags, or you could tell them in a nice way that and why you find them disturbing. Don’t upload these kind of images yourself either. To be honest, I have a few of them and I had been in doubt wether to post them or not. As I want to promote a ‘healthy’ body image (health isn’t necessarily dependent on a particular body image), I decided not to upload them.
I also call sites that focus on adolescent girls and allow them to submit content to – perhaps in conjunction with an eating disorder foundation – set rules for moderation of blogs and forum posts/topics. Perhaps this won’t directly target the core of the underlying problem, but it would be a good first step in the right direction.
Last but not least: you’re beautiful just the way you are, with ànd without bikini bridge!
— EDIT —
According to this post, the bikini bridge is a “4 Chan hoax”; the images were covered with ‘motivtional’ quotes and put on the internet to make us think about the stupidity of the thigh gap. As these images are now used as ‘thinspo’ (images of thin people, used as inspiration by people that want to be thin) on the interwebz and social media, I think their initiative failed big time!
What do you think about the bikini bridge trends/phenomena?
* I am not saying that a thin body type is a negative thing or that one can’t be healthy at a low weight. That’s not what this post is about. Not body shaming!