The Bikini Bridge is supposed to be a source of inspiration for people looking to lose weight and get in better shape, but the trend sweeping social media is really a giant hoax generating from the dark corners of the internet.
According to the hashtag #bikinibridge, which has been sweeping Twitter and Tumblr in recent days, the Bikini Bridge is defined as “bikini bottoms are suspended between the two hip bones, causing a space between the bikini and the lower abdomen.”
It has taken off as the “thinspiration” trend of 2014, but the true source of the trend goes much deeper than fitness fanatics.
The Bikini Bridge trend has been traced back to 4chan, the image-sharing board that has been responsible for a number of hoaxes in the past. Started by an anonymous user — as all of 4chan’s users are anonymous — the effort was known as “Operation Bikini Bridge,” and featured a fairly simple, two-phase plot.
First, members were to produce and circulate images of the so-called Bikini Bridge, along with some quasi-inspirational, but actually indicting words.
“Create propaganda parading the ‘bikini bridge’ to be the next big thing (pic related — that read “If you have time to complain, you have time to train,” or “Getting a smoother tan line from your bikini bridge”). Circulate it throughout the internet. Simultaneously, we create reverse propaganda, denouncing the bikini bridge as an unhealthy obsession. This, too, we circulate throughout the internet.”
After the trend saturated social media, 4chan then intends to tighten the focus to shame the overweight.
“After a fair amount of circulation has been accomplished,” the user wrote, “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.).
“The users at 4chan have started many other hoaxes and questionable campaigns in the past, including a plan to have a “creepy” 40-year-old man win a contest to meet Taylor Swift, and intentionally spreading false information about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Plenty of media outlets have already caught on to the Bikini Bridge hoax, but at the same time many users on Instagram have taken hold of the trend, sharing pictures of their own Bikini Bridges, and bragging. The trend is worrying body image experts, who see it as an extension of past efforts to shame the overweight and focus on dangerous body standards.