As it starts to hit mid-March, even the coldest areas around the country are starting to warm up. Summer is right around the corner, and you know what that means: it’s almost swimsuit season.
For some people, the months leading up to summer are filled with rigorous workouts and dieting to create that perfect suimsuit bod. And once it’s summer? Be prepared for your Instagram feed to be filled with posts about the perfect thighbrows, thigh gaps, and — most unrealistically of all — bikini bridges.
What is the bikini bridge?
You’ve probably heard of the “bikini bridge” by now. If you haven’t, let me give you a quick rundown: the bikini bridge is the space you get between your hip bones and your bathing suit when you lie down. If you’ve never noticed whether or not you have one, it’s probably a good thing.
While the bikini bridge is considered #goals for a lot of women, it actually all started as an Internet hoax after the thigh gap blew up online. In 2014, a group of 4chan user launched “Operation Bikini Bridge,” a campaign aimed at starting a new beauty trend similar to the thigh gap. It was all about creating buzz and starting conversations about fat shaming, thin privilege, and other hot topics in the body positivity sphere. The Internet trolls created propaganda by photoshopping celebrity endorsements on Twitter and making fake Buzzfeed lists in favor of the trend. Before long, it actually blew up, and became one of the most sought after (and physically impossible) beauty trends to date.
The 4chan users certainly got what they wanted. The creation of the bikini bridge led to an onslaught of Tumblrs, Instagrams, and op-eds arguing in favor of or against the beauty trend. Thinspiration and fitspo accounts began using it as an incentive to lose weight. Body positivity sites began demonizing it as just another unrealistic expectation for women to work toward.
It’s understandable why the bikini bridge faces so much backlash. At least 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from an eating disorder, and a beauty ideal that includes hip bones protruding from one’s body isn’t necessarily a healthy standard for people already struggling with body image. Some psychologists worry this particular trend could lead to the rise of eating disorders in young women.
Of course, it’s not an unrealistic worry. After all, once the bikini bridge blew up online, it became an obsession — women had to have it.
The bikini bridge and body idealism
We all want our bodies to look a certain way. In fact, many people obsess over it. We go to the gym, do our squats so we have the perfect booty, find ways to trim our waists while preserving our thighs. We want to be thin, we want to be “thicc,” and we want to be everything in between. We want to look like women and men we aren’t anatomically similar to.
Here’s the thing: the bikini bridge isn’t necessarily an achievable goal for all women. Bone structure and genetics play often play a role in our physicality that we don’t always like to acknowledge, but it’s true — some women just look a certain way, and that’s that. For some reason, attempting to build a bikini bridge is actually dangerous.
Studies show that obsessive focus on body ideals or a certain body part can lead to the neglect of overall health. Instead of focusing on balanced meals and exercise, it can lead to extreme dieting and overexertion. What may appear to look healthy may be completely detrimental.
So should you strive for the perfect bikini bridge this summer? That’s up to you. But if you’re going to work toward it, just remember — don’t abandon self-care in the name of beauty. There are some things that are more important than achieving an often unreachable beauty standard.