I was browsing my twitter feed a few weeks ago and came across the hashtag #bikinibridge. Not knowing what this was, I clicked on it to see what was tweeted about this trend. For those of you fortunate enough to be unaware: the bikini bridge is the stretch of stomach on a very thin woman between her hip bones where, when lying down, the bikini bottoms do not touch. The trend #thighgap went hand in hand with this new trend. Before I delve into my feelings on this subject, I want to be clear. If you are a naturally slender woman and that is how you were made, and are healthiest: you are beautiful just the way you are. You are a beautiful woman. My goal through this post is not to shame women who are naturally thin. My goal is to bring attention to something that has been on my mind since about the eighth grade.
The issue that I have with these two trends is that many younger women, for whom these absurd trends are not naturally occurring, are aspiring to the #bikinibridge and the #thighgap. Learning this literally made me nauseous. I don’t mean that in the Kardashian way of ‘I literally died when I saw that dress.’ I mean I actually felt physically sick when I scrolled through the “bikini bridge” trend. Many of the tweets looked to come from young girls dieting and exercising to obtain these two physical traits. After my nausea subsided, I felt overwhelmingly sad. I feel so sad for these young women that are growing up in a world where the majority of us are not society’s version of beautiful. I felt sad seeing some of these girls in high school tweeting things like “working on getting that #bikinibridge” with a picture of a super model attached. I felt sad for all the women in the world who look in the mirror get frustrated, and even cry because of what they see. These trends I’m talking about are pretty extreme, but there are so many different things that every woman finds wrong with herself. If you are a woman, you know.
Two months ago my mom, aunt, cousin, and I went on our annual mother’s day weekend trip to South Beach Miami, Florida. It is always the best trip. However, bikinis in May are not a formula for a lot of positive chatter about body image. If you’ve never been to Miami, you should know that it is not a place for the self-conscious. This year we made a rule that for every negative comment you made about your body or the way you looked, you had to say something positive about yourself. This made such a difference in how I felt during and after the trip. By focusing on the positive things about ourselves, this was the most confident I have ever felt on that trip. I’m not sure about the other women that were on the trip, but I am still working to practice counteracting my body shaming with positive thoughts. Whenever I look in the mirror and find something I don’t like, I shift my focus to something I do like about myself. If you are a woman that gets frustrated with the way you look, I am challenging you to do the same. I am also challenging you to badger the women you care about to practice this simple habit. At times, my cousin and I had to force our mothers to say something they liked about themselves. And the three seconds it took to reply “lipstick doesn’t count! Say it and mean it” were totally worth it. This small practice makes such a difference. I realize that the bikini bridge and thigh gap trends still exist, but I am hoping that by spreading some positive body love, we learn better how to love ourselves and help teach younger generations to love themselves just the way they are.