"Box gap" and "bikini bridge" are both memorable terms, but ReachOut.com Crew member Kate reckons the message they send about body image is worth forgetting.
It's hard to ignore a damaging message about health and hotness, when it's the main one you hear AND it has a pithy name
What's in a name?
The internet is really good at making up names for things that don’t actually mean anything in real life. Sometimes this is excellent (e.g. emojis), and sometimes it is really not excellent. Some non-excellent names you may have heard online recently:
Box gap (noun):
The gap some people have between their thighs when they stand with their legs and feet together.
Bikini bridge (noun): When the fabric of a woman's bikini bottoms is suspended like a bridge above her stomach, because her hip bones stick out further than her stomach does. Most bikini bridges are achieved with some assistance from gravity, when a woman lies flat on her back.
Aside from bikini bridges putting you at risk of accidentally joining a game of peekaboo pubes, these body traits aren’t bad in themselves. Some people just happen to have gaps between their thighs , and some people happen to have sticky-out hips. Like many things, it’s not the terms themselves that are a problem, so much as what they come to mean for people, and how they are used.
Skinny = healthy + hot? Maybe not.
When I was 16, I happened to notice I had a gap between my thighs, and a gap between my hips where my stomach should be (back then I had no name for them). The trouble was, once I knew of these gaps, I became really interested in keeping them around. In my mind, they meant that I was ‘skinny,’ which in turn meant that I was ‘healthy and hot!’
I spent the next three years monitoring my weight, health and hotness by the size of these gaps and it was only when I developed a long-term illness at the age of 19 that things changed. As I got skinnier, and I felt sicker, my long-standing belief that skinny always meant healthy was seriously challenged.
I’m not the only one who will tell you that skinniness, health and hotness don’t necessarily relate at all. There are plenty of health professionals, and plenty of non-professional but nevertheless clever clogs who have come to the same conclusion. Everyone’s body shape is different, and there are far more reliable markers of health than weight.
That can be pretty hard to believe sometimes though. By the time we've given names to body traits like box gaps and bikini bridges, they’ve well and truly hit the mainstream and taken on a higher level of importance than they deserve. Before we know it, women are competing to be the gosh-darn best at box gapping they can be. Those that aren’t achieving gappy-enough boxes? They just need to exercise more, push themselves further, and read some more #fitspiration posters for motivation. #nevergiveup #diets4lyf.
Beating bikini bridge bullshit
This is the point where I throw my hands up in the air and want to shout “Internet, you have failed us all!” No wonder around 30% of young Australians report having body image issues.
The internet does give us one weapon of resistance. If you don’t like the conversation being had, start one of your own. We have the power to turn this around. Let’s start some alternative convos about health, fitness and hotness, bust some myths, and share these convos far and wide. A few to kick off with:
Share them, spread the word, and beat the bullshit.