Body image experts are slamming the global social media trend that started out as a prank, but are even more worried that so many believed it.
It started out as a hoax on image sharing site 4chan, but now, the bikini bridge has become a viral sensation that even has Harry Styles tweeting about it.
Memes for the ‘bikini bridge’, which is the term used when you can see a space between your bikini bottoms and your lower abdomen when lying down, were created by 4chan users in an attempt to spam social media and news outlets with “the next big thing”.
The pranksters also created a Tumblr blog called The 4th Wave Feminist Manifesto and bombarded Twitter with a flood of posts and fake accounts that goaded users into a reaction. And it worked.
According to Dailydot.com over the past 24 hours, #bikinibridge and #bikinibridge2014 have been tweeted more than 3000 times. Tumblr and BuzzFeed also got in on the action, writing an article entitled ‘the 12 perks of having a bikini bridge’. Popular media outlets such as The Daily Mail reported on it and fitness bloggers ranted.
“Be aware of this weird #bikinibridge obsession...a space between your abs and your bikini bottoms does not define your beauty ladies!” Posted popular fitness blogger Cassey Ho.
Even Harry Styles got in on the banter posting “Nothing hotter than girls with #bikinibridge. He has since deleted the tweet, but not before it was favourited 115,359 times.
Soon after, ‘Operation Bikini Bridge’ was revealed as a hoax.
“After a fair amount of circulation has been accomplished, we circulate the images throughout parts of the Internet known to be biased on the subject of weight (i.e. thin privilege, fat shaming, etc),” one anonymous 4chan user wrote. “This should cause large enough of a stir to snowball
into a fairly big subject.”
But while 4Chan users were successful in manipulating social media, some health experts are lamenting that whether it’s a hoax or not, the damage has been done with many bonafide accounts now in circulation.
“#Retweet if youre not ashamed of your #bikinibridge! #Healthy #Sexy #Proud” posted BikiniBridge14
@Sirlulzington_51m said, “I can't believe this is the new trend, but I find it beautiful. This shows true dedication, discipline, and hard work. #BikiniBridge”
“Some may call me - Ridiculous, or stupid, for wanting a #bikinibridge, but I am a warrior and I will fight for one!” posted @ChiaraBiliana6h
“Trouble is… putting the phrase into common use is damaging, because many people … won’t know that.” health blogger Katie Lowe weighed in. “What's also depressing is that the reason it worked is because it's plausible... Which is grim!”
“Bikini bridge or otherwise, we need to learn that bodies are beautiful in all shapes and sizes - and encouraging young women to strive towards something like this is an unhealthy result of a body shaming culture which is causing over 4,500 girls aged 15-19 to develop a new eating disorder every single year,” she told The Daily Mail.