The internet can be a wonderful place, what with all the cat videos, indie shopping sites, and old school instant messaging services, but sometimes it can also feel like toxic cesspool filled with little but hate, porn, and weird trends we’d all be better off not knowing about. While stuff like Christmas-inspired eyebrows probably falls into the latter category, we can deal with a little kitsch. What we can’t deal with? The pervasive culture of body shaming online. Whether it’s criticizing celebrities for their post-baby bodies or fixating on hyperspecific aspects of the female form, the internet can be a bad place for those of us just trying to stay healthy and happy. Read on for five of the worst body obsessions invented by the internet, and remember: just because it’s a thing doesn’t mean you have to buy in.
The body trend that started it all, the thigh gap appears to have become a part of our lexicon following the 2012 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, when several media outlets began talking about the space between the thighs of ultra-thin models. It so quickly became an aspirational attribute that in 2013, author Camille Hugh published a book called The Thigh Gap Hack. Apparently, some women have even resorted to surgery to obtain it. The thing is, according to Livestrong, whether or not you have a thigh gap actually has more to do with the width of your hips and the angle of your pelvic bones then how thin you are, so for many of us, it’s simply out of the question.
Remember this whole thing? What started as an internet hoax claiming the next big thing was to have hip bones so sharp they created a “bridge” with your bikini bottom quickly became an actual trait women were expected to aspire to. Like all awful things online, it originated on 4chan and then spread like wildfire. But, as E! News noted at the time, having two gaping areas right where your crotch is isn’t a particularly good look and could also likely be easily achieved by buying one of the many ill-fitting swimsuits on the market.
A kind of antidote to the bikini bridge, the term hip dip was actually coined to help normalize a feature a lot of women don’t like about their bodies, namely the small “dip” that occurs in the middle of some people’s hips. It’s unlike the typical hourglass silhouette we’re told is most attractive, so many women have sought to fix theirs with surgery or dieting. While we’re theoretically behind anything body positive, it seems a little silly that we should have to give cutesy names to random parts of our bodies in order to accept ourselves as the whole people that we are.
This was definitely the “body trend of the summer,” if such a thing can be said to exist, in 2015, thanks to a series of Instagram posts by various Kardashians and Hadids. In case you somehow missed this one (bless you), thigh brows are the indentations that form in the skin when you’re wearing one of those ’90s-style high-cut bathing suits (why are those a thing again?) and sitting in Bambi Pose or something akin to it. I guess it’s less disturbing than the thigh gap obsession since this one is ostensibly about being curvy and not rail-thin, but all of these things are, at their core, about conforming to arbitrary standards of beauty that are unattainable in one way or another for the vast majority of us, so IDK, I’m not sure it really is.
And this brings us to our latest trend, the arm vagina, which was recently brought to our attention by Metro. Unlike the others, this one isn’t something to aspire to or even accept, but rather something to be self-conscious about. You know, because you definitely needed another one of those, right? In case you couldn’t decipher from the name, an arm vagina is the little fold of skin that exists in the crook of your armpit. Yeah, that guy. Apparently, people—including celebrities! Including Jennifer freakin’ Lawrence!—are self-conscious about it. I cannot.