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The “Bikini Bridge” – Internet Hoax Creates Unrealistic Body Ideals

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois chapter.

Work out trends come and go, and women have no problem latching onto the latest body image craze. From defined collarbones to the “thigh-gap,” people are constantly redefining what it means to be skinny, fit and desirable.

The latest fad sweeping the Internet is the “bikini bridge,” and is yet another way for girls to feel inadequate in their two-pieces. The biking bridge refers to a gap that forms between a girl’s bikini and stomach when she lies down, caused by protruding hipbones.

This trend really took off in early January when a user on 4chan, an anonymous image board website, attempted to make the bikini bridge go viral as an Internet joke.

The plan for this hoax had two phases. Phase one included creating fake screenshots of celebrities endorsing the bikini bridge and generally circulating the idea through the Internet to gain as many followers as possible, according to BuzzFeed. The second phase was to create controversy over the issue by posting to sites that typically speak out against fat-shaming or negative body image issues. The hope was to spark a controversy and make the bikini bridge even more popular.

This body image ideal was picked up rapidly by social media users. “In just 24 hours, #bikinibridge and #bikinibridge2014 was tweeted more than 2,400 times,” Bianca London of “The Daily Mail” said.

London’s report debunked the hoax and was quickly followed by smaller blogs who all tried to warn women that this fad wasn’t actually endorsed by Harry Styles.

Despite the attempt to prove that the bikini bridge was simply a successful experiment showing our ability to believe everything we read on the Internet, the bikini bridge hashtags are still going strong. It is difficult to tell at this point which posts are part of the original hoax and which are of girls who have truly bought into this ideal.

The bikini bridge, which might be achievable if you feel like doing sit-ups all day everyday, is very heavily based on body type.  Kathleen Kallal, a junior at UIUC, knows this firsthand.

“I have family members who naturally have the body type featuring the bikini bridge,” Kallal said. “It has nothing to do with their size or how much they work out, but rather that the size of their hipbones.”

Kallal’s lament with the bikini bridge is echoed by girls all around the world who are sick of being given unrealistic body expectations to live up to.

Even if it was dreamed up by a bunch of anonymous Internet users, the bikini bridge is “a thinspiration members’ dream come true,” Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association, told New York Daily News. “When someone has an eating disorder, they will view this as a challenge – do I have that bridge? It just promotes the sad competition in a person’s brain, as they never feel thin enough.”

While the backlash against the bikini bridge has been large, there are still plenty of girls following the trend and showing off their bridges on social media sites unaware that it was only introduced to see what it takes to make something go viral.


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Mary Alex is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is studying communication, public relations and theatre. When not writing for Her Campus, Mary Alex loves to run, read and see plays. She also has a weakness for peanut butter, is a huge Cubs fan, and has seen every episode of Gilmore Girls multiple times.