When you lie down in your bikini at the beach, are the edges suspended between the two hip bones, causing a space between the bikini and the lower abdomen? If so, then you’ve got a bikini bridge! Which is a real thing. Sort of.
See, last January, the social media site called 4Chan decided to launch Operation Bikini Bridge. On the same day, Buzzfeed ran a piece called “12 Perks of Having a Bikini Bridge” (which has since been removed from the internet) in a concerted attempt “to spam social media and news organizations with conflicting messages” regarding how women feel about themselves — and themselves in bikinis. So, um, yeah. I don’t really why anyone would want to spend their time doing that or might think it’s a good thing to do.
But apparently the organizers of Operation Bikini Bridge wanted to create enough social media buzz to make bikini bridges the next big thing after thigh gaps (which actually is a thing) and then come out against bikini bridges. And to achieve this lofty goal, there were staged bikini bridge photos with fake perks mentioned like “having a dedicated space in which to store your iPod while sunning.” ‘Cause who doesn’t need that?
But then oh, snap! What began as a hoax actually took on a life of its own and the made-up “disturbing new selfie fad” was tweeted about more than 3,400 times in the first 48 hours of the “operation” despite the fact that real news agencies attempted to discredit the story. So, I guess we’d label that as #EpicHoaxFail?
Those hashtags are not a hoax.
Fast-forward to right now, and there are still problems. Because as we head into bikini season, the bikini bridge hashtag is more active than ever on Instagram and Twitter — and now often accompanied by other disturbing tags like #mia, #bulimic, #thinspiration, and #anorexia. Worse still: bogus dieting companies are trying to encourage customers to “work on getting that bikini bridge!” and there’s even a daily e-newspaper called Bikini Bridge Magazine (which I have decided not to link to).
In other words: the hoax backfired and now lots of ladies care immensely about bikini bridges and post shots of their hipbones online without even knowing that they’ve been had.
Not too long ago, stuff like this — whether fake or real — was limited mostly to harder-to-find pro-anorexia web sites, meaning that one had to seek such images out if one wanted to look at them. But thanks to the ubiquity of social media, thigh gaps, protruding rib cages and now bikini bridges are popping up everywhere.
It’s as if a monster has been created and let out of its cage. And all that’s left to say about it is Let’s Just Not Do This, Ladies.
Audrey D. Brashich is the author of All Made Up: A Girl’s Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty.