Move over thigh gap - looks like the bikini bridge is the next thinspiration, thanks to a prank campaign.
Circulated by users anonymous message boards (4chan/b/) in particular, the explosion of unhealthy body bridge images across the web earlier this week is creating a dangerous buzz, feeding those starving for approval and upping competition in the online hunger games. The body bridge features a super flat stomach flanked by jutting hip bones. When lying down, this creates a space between your bikini bottom and concave stomach. What started as a hoax is providing endless unhealthy selfie possibilities and experts are worried about impressionable young women starving themselves for the coveted caved-in look, ramping up eating disorders and online fat-shaming. This newest benchmark for beauty is uglyĖ it encourages young women to develop poor body images and batters their self esteem, report experts.
Last year it was the deplorable thigh gap that was deified, a Tumblr darling, glorified and glamourized on social media, cycling through pro-eating disorder blogs and thinspo hashtags. Twitter and Facebook accounts were dedicated to thighs that don’t meet at the top. Flat is where it’s at this time around. “It’s the ultimate beach accessory,” states a Buzzfeed article entitled 12 Perks of Having a Bikini Bridge, which has since been removed. Sites surging with bikini bridge images, along with clicks and tweets are growing this unhealthy and unrealistic beast.
“Here we go again! Another body anomaly that is mostly shaped through genetics. As if photoshop hasn’t done enough to harm girl’s self image, now they want a hollow stomach?” says New York psychologist Dr. Wendy Walsh.
“This is yet another disturbing trend that is set to go viral with Internet selfies. When are girls going to Instagram and Snapchat their real power part: Their GPA?” adds Walsh.
“This bikini bridge may become the bridge to disappointment. Girls do not need any more mirages to chase on the road to body satisfaction and positive self worth,”says Dr. Robyn Silverman.
Psychotherapist Mary Jo Rapini, of maryjorapini.com, slams social media for fuelling and normalizing dangerous thinspiration trends in teenage girls. “The reason it is popular at all is due to a captive young impressionable audience on social media. Young girls already struggling with who they are and are they beautiful enough... desperate to fit in or be popular.”
Rapini, a therapist, author and mother of two girls, says social media becomes more powerful with their message according to how much time is invested so always make sure family time outweighs social media time. Studies suggest that social media peer pressure plays a major role in eating disorders. A University of Haifa study found that the more time an adolescent girl spends on Facebook, the more susceptible she is to developing a poor body image.
“Social media is the way teens and tweens communicate and unfortunately the idea of being super bony is what is idealized as being beautiful,” says Rapini. “We can change this, but we need to have moms and dads back in the homes engaged fully with their kids.”
According to Dr. Robyn Silverman, body image expert at drrobynsilverman.com, “the bikini bridge joins its sister body demands - thigh gap, protruding collar bones, visible ribs - which all spell trouble for a body-obsessed culture. While these features may be natural in a small percentage of women, it is most certainly unnatural and unhealthy in others.”
Because these features are unnatural in many girls and women, they will have to do unhealthy things to their bodies from starvation to purging in order to achieve it, says Silverman, author of Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls & How To Help Them Thrive Despite It.