Why The #HipDip Phenomenon May Be No Better Than The #ThighGap Trend

by Julia Guerra

If you've ever casually lost yourself in a Tumblr K-hole, you've most likely come across dozens of photographs displaying male or female bodies with protruding ribs, tiny waists, and the ever-elusive thigh gaps glorifying what it is to be "skinny."

These were the photographs I discreetly pined over for years on my laptop in the family room, away from my parents' eyes, or on my phone, scrolling and scrolling well into the night.

These were the bodies I hoped to achieve, and I'd often stop at nothing until my body and the skeletal structures on the computer screen were practically mirrored images.

Then along came Instagram: an entire application dedicated to self-proclaimed photography, where taking a “selfie” is an art form, where body positivity has attempted to make a name for itself, and where the phrase #hipdips is now thriving.

Recognized as the slight or dramatic curve crevices between the outer upper thigh and hip, "#hipdips" has accumulated well over a thousand public photographs to its name so far, growing a community of curve-accepting users that are, or are in the process, of loving their shapely figures.

Social media outlets have transitioned from their original intent of being peer-focused, online hangouts where friends, past and present, can keep up with one another, to platforms for political, social, and, now more than ever, body-positive movements to take form and flourish (or fail).

On the one hand, I truly believe it is both important and powerful to fully accept, appreciate, and be proud of the skin you're in and the perfect imperfections that make you, you.

On the other hand, when it comes to body image, there's an unavoidable, potent danger in the celebration of one exclusive group, shape, or feature.

In doing so, it can make others feel like they need to look like, and/or live up to standards that may simply be unattainable.

There is, obviously, a clear difference between the thigh gap conundrum and what the "hipdips" hashtag represents.

But it all boils down to social acceptance, the negative counterpart of this type of behavior and public authority.

Unfortunately, no good deed goes unpunished, and whether you care to acknowledge it or not, movements like this can trigger anyone, even if there's no overt intention to cause harm.

Working though an eating disorder and body dysmorphia myself, these experiences have led me to accept all shapes and sizes. It has also taught me to love my body, free of the insatiable need to drive attention and approval in the form of a Facebook's virtual thumbs up or Instagram's red heart.

It is both sad and concerning that people in society live so much of their lives through pixelated screens.

So much so, that how someone feels about their body weighs heavily on likes and comments -- virtual recognition from a majority of strangers, and a small percentage of loved ones and friends.

To be unforgivably you, and proud of how you look and who you are as a person, that is an amazing accomplishment, and that self-confidence can radiate all on its own.

So the question to consider is, are these so-called movements actually body-positive, or do they continue to underline the unrealistic beauty standards we see every single day?

Just remember: You can, and should, love the skin you're in, but it doesn't have to be the standard for everyone else to live up to.