1. Celebs' sexy pics spark 'ab crack' trend
The ab crack was recently coined by Cosmopolitan as a “new core look” and an “irrigation ditch divide.” It is being flaunted all over social media by of the most popular celebs.
Emily Ratajkowski, Bella Hadid and fitness guru Jen Setler have shown off their super fit bikini bodies. In their photos, a noticeable line appears down the center of their torsos, which is only visible due to their very flat stomachs.
However, body image expert Sarah Maria, told FOX411 the ab crack becomes a breeding ground for body-image dissatisfaction.
“Any time people obsess over a particular body part – its size, shape, or contouring, it is a breeding ground for body-image dissatisfaction,” she said. “People who don’t have ab cracks feel like they should have them in order to be beautiful and then are inclined to starve themselves and workout obsessively in order to get one.”
Dr. Marc Siegel, of the Fox News Medical A-Team, said the ab crack is a deceptive goal for people to attain.
“There is nothing healthy about the ab crack except insomuch as thin is generally healthier than heavy,” he explained via email. “But to the extent that excess fascination with body tone leads to obsessive use of isometric (weights, etc.) as opposed to regular use of cardiovascular exercise (running, elliptical, bike, rowing), then I would call the ab crack potentially unhealthy.”
And Maria pointed out this phenomenon is part of a body image obsession that affects both men and women.
“I would say that the ab crack phenomenon is simply another version of the same old needless body-obsession that plagues most woman and many men.”
It’s far from the first time a celebrity look has caused a style trend. Back in April 2015, teens who wanted to imitate Kylie Jenner’s surgically enhanced lips swelled up their lips by sucking into a small glass. The trend caused bruising and considerable pain.
And in 2013, the thigh gap took over the Internet, partially thanks to the slim legged looks models were showing off on the runway. Experts said at the time the thigh gap was virtually impossible to achieve and risky to try.
2. 'Ribcage bragging' is the worrying new 'desirable' body trend that's taking over where the thigh gap left off
First there was the thigh gap, a 'trend' which saw a pocket of empty space between a woman's thighs becoming a desirable, must-have thing. Because OMG your legs are so skinny and how do I make mine the same? While some women naturally have a thigh gap, for those who don't it became a poisonous and dangerous concept, not to mention ridiculous given that the space between a woman's legs is predominantly determined by how far apart her pelvis is set, and not the amount of meat on her thighs.
Then came the ab crack, a visible dip in between the ribs which usually indicates that a person has been to the gym and worked on toning their abs. Equally as damaging because some women could exercise five days a week for an entire year and still see no crack emerging on her abdomen.
And now, here we are, with the new kid on the block: ribcage bragging. According to this new concerning fad, the visible display of a person's protruding ribcage is now a positive thing.
It's a term that's been coined by Mail Online, who point towards the likes of celebrities including Bella Hadid, Rita Ora, Nicole Sherzinger and Kourtney Kardashian for popularising it with the uploading of bikini pictures showing their ribcages loud and proud.
But thankfully, the people of the internet aren't going to be pressured into feeling like their ribcage needs to poke out if they want to be deemed attractive.
3. Alien yoga is the latest viral health craze to take over Instagram – it's seriously freaky
While thigh gaps and ribcage bragging have been controversial to say the least, the latest body morphing trend is as strange as it's name: alien yoga.
Like an alteration of a belly roll, alien yoga has taken fitness Instagrams by storms with users showing of their almost-creepy stomach contortions.
This type of yoga is traditionally known as Nauli and is a move that has been around for centuries.
It involves exhaling before isolating the stomach and pulling it underneath the ribcage.
You then contract and release stomach muscles to create a rolling movement.
The move is meant to “cleanse” the digestive system and strengthen the core through a series of abdominal movements.
While challenging, the move can be mastered by anyone but can also cause discomfort if done improperly.
“Nauli cleanses the internal organs and tones the abdominal region via a side-to-side rolling motion of the abdominal muscles,” Nauli stated.
4. Are you a ‘REAL woman’? ‘Under Boob Pen Challenge’ craze sweeps the internet
In one of the more bizarre internet crazes of the new year, women are sticking pens under their breasts in a bid to prove their ‘womanhood’.
Female social media users are posting selfies of their breasts holding up a pen in a trend that apparently proves you are a ‘true woman’.
The trend has taken the web by storm after sweeping across China - with some women even attempting larger objects including make-up brushes.
Photos have already been shared millions of times across social media, often accompanied by the caption: "Pass the challenge to prove you're a true woman."
The craze is similar to the #holdacokewithyourboob challenge, which saw thousands of women posting sexy selfies of their cleavage holding up a Coke can online.
The viral Twitter hashtag duped many women into taking topless pictures and sharing them on social media because they thought it was in aid of raising cancer awareness.
The craze was actually started to poke fun of other charity initiatives launched on social media such as the Ice Bucket Challenge and the no makeup selfie.
And the latest trend has been blasted by some women on social media, with breast cancer sufferer Aimee Fletcher posting: “How silly! Guess I’m not a real woman -both before and after cancer."
Ms Fletcher, who has undergone a double mastectomy, also hit back at the craze by posting a picture of her on chest on social media.
5. New body image challenge has women comparing their waist lines width of paper
Now a new trend has emerged on social media, inspiring women to flaunt their ultra-thin waistlines.
The A4 Waist Challenge encourages women to stand behind a piece of white paper to see if their waistlines are thinner than the 8-inch wide piece of paper.
The challenge appears to have started in February on Weibo, a popular blogging site in China.
Now, women around the globe are completing the challenge.
Dr. Ann Kearney-Cooke, a psychologist at the Cincinnati Psychotherapy Institute, told TODAY.com that challenges like this promote unhealthy body image perceptions, especially among young women.
"It's like your self-esteem is built on measuring a body part and the amount of inches of your waist," she said. "Self-esteem in adolescence should be more about developing your inner strength."
Kearney-Cooke said that girls should be struggling with big questions while growing up, such as, "What do I believe in?" and "What are my signature strengths?" instead of asking themselves, "Does my waist measure up?"
She emphasized that having a waist as thin as the width of printer paper is not even something most women or young adults can achieve, citing hormones and the natural shape of female bodies.
"Most cannot have that and they feel bad about themselves," she said, adding that such pressures could lead "vulnerable" girls to dangerous behaviors.
6. The Belly Button Challenge Is Harder—and More Harmful—Than It Looks
The contortionist trend started on Chinese social site Weibo this week, with the topic translating to “reaching your belly button from behind to show your good figure,” the BBC reports.
Thousands of young Chinese women have uploaded images of themselves successfully completing the challenge, but for every smiling photo of a job well done, there’s likely another woman—me, for example—wondering why she can’t do it. Is her waist too wide, or are her fingers just too short? Does this inability of the index finger to reach the tummy’s center signal a need for weight loss?
The rational answer is, of course, no. But the images perpetuate an idea of what it means to have a so-called “good figure.”
So, Why Should You Care? What might seem like a harmless pose contributes to a warped version of the ideal body type.
“Social media challenges like these can stoke comparison and body insecurity, especially for those struggling with disordered eating,” Claire Mysko, a spokesperson for the National Eating Disorder Association, told ABC News.
The trend has gained traction on Twitter and Instagram in the U.S. and Europe. While some have poked fun at the challenge or posted pictures with flat abs that still missed the mark, there’s an underlying current of competition and bragging rights associated with the images. Posts from women who can reach their stomach’s center far outnumber those who demonstrate that they are unable.
Eating disorders have the highest fatality rate of any mental-health disorder. The last thing any person suffering from body distortion or low self-esteem needs is to be tasked with another beauty standard she can’t meet.
“We advocate for body positivity challenges, which are empowering and encourage self-expression, not self-criticism,” Mysko said.
Reminiscent of the thigh gap trend of 2013, in which a bow-legged look exuded the ultimate achievement of skinniness, critics have beewn quick to point out that the space between your legs or the twistiness of your torso has more to do with bone structure and flexibility than it does with weight or health.
Despite that logical thinking, I’ve practically dislocated my shoulder in an attempt to reach my own belly button—to no avail.
7. Everyone Is Taking the Collarbone Challenge to See How Skinny and Sexy They Are
Of course, like most of the challenges on this list, the trend was seen by experts as promoting an eating disorder, and some social media users weren't having it either. They poked fun at the collarbone craze by balancing random objects—from half-eaten candy bars to bottles of vodka—on their chests.
8. 'Thigh gap' trend raises health concerns
Specialists say achieving a so-called "thigh gap" is risky and virtually impossible. But some exceptionally thin models have the gap, which is upheld as a beauty achievement on countless Tumblr pages, blogs and other social media sites.
"The issue of focusing on a particular body part is very common," said Claire Mysko, who oversees teen outreach and digital media for the National Eating Disorders Association, an advocacy group. "What is new is these things have taken on a life of their own because of the Internet and social media."
When the vast majority of people stand with their feet together, their thighs touch. A tiny percentage of people have thighs so slim that they don't come together. The "thigh gap" refers to this space.
Studies suggest that peer pressure from social media plays a significant role in eating disorders. A 2011 study at the University of Haifa found that adolescent girls who spent the most time using Facebook had a greater chance of developing a negative body image and an eating disorder.
"The intrusion and presence of social media in our lives really does make it very difficult," said Nancy Albus, chief executive officer of Castlewood Treatment Center, a suburban St. Louis facility that focuses on eating disorders. "The important distinction about thigh gap is it gives you an actual visual to achieve, this visual comparison of how your body does or doesn't stack up."
Vonda Wright, a Pittsburgh-based orthopedic surgeon and fitness expert, said the spacing between a person's legs is based mostly on genetics. And even extraordinarily thin people may not have a body type that can achieve a gap. You have to be both skinny and wide-hipped, she said.
Besides, Wright said, it isn't a goal worth chasing. Most fit people won't have a thigh gap because their thighs are muscular enough that they touch, she said.
"Skinny does not mean fit or muscular," said Wright, who works with Division I athletes. "I cannot think of one athlete I deal with" who has a thigh gap.
Experts say it is impossible to know if the pursuit of a thigh gap has caused any deaths, nor is it known how many eating disorders are blamed on the phenomenon. But Mysko said experts believe that "exposure to online images of extreme beauty standards and the drive to compare does increase the risk of developing eating disorders."
Sara, a 22-year-old Castlewood client, said thigh-gap sites were a contributing factor in her struggle. She spoke on the condition that she be identified only by her first name to avoid the stigma associated with eating disorders.
Always a high achiever, Sara was captain of her high school swim team in Minnesota and a straight-A student. In college, she graduated near the top of her class, even while hiding her secret.
It was in high school that Sara developed anorexia. By college, she was purging and excessively exercising. She was a frequent visitor to thigh-gap sites.
"It helped to normalize what I was doing to myself," Sara said. "I never knew before that I wanted a thigh gap. It felt like it was some type of accomplishment that people would want to achieve."
The sites offered photos of slender-legged models, testimonials on how to achieve the gap and tips such as chewing food but spitting it out before swallowing.
Grotesquely, some of the sites showed pictures of Holocaust victims "for motivational purposes" or martyred those who died from eating disorders. It seemed to make her own struggle OK, Sara said.
"I would say, 'Well, I'm not that bad.'"
Her therapist, Kim Callaway, said she often encourages clients to avoid social media and even delete their Facebook pages.
"It's not uncommon for people to be on Facebook talking about what they ate today, posting pictures of their meals or writing about how they're 10 pounds lighter than they were a month ago," Callaway said.
"The ability to be instantly connected to everybody and see what they look like and see them blog or talk about what they are eating and what they do for exercise — this makes it a lot more difficult for those with eating disorders," Callaway said.
The National Eating Disorders Association is fighting back with its own site, www.Proud2BMe.org, which promotes positive body image and encourages healthy attitudes about food and weight.
Sara is getting better after about four months of treatment at Castlewood. She's moved out of the treatment center to an apartment, though she still gets outpatient therapy.
"I want to recover," she said. "And I don't want this to be my life anymore."
9. Has 'bikini bridge' become the new thigh gap? Disturbing new selfie fad circulating on social media
Admirers of this look even created Twitter and Facebook accounts dedicated to the 'thigh gap' with more than 700,000 followers sharing pictures.
But with a new year, comes a new social media trend. Make way for the 'bikini bridge', which Urban Dictionary describes as 'when bikini bottoms are suspended between the two hip bones, causing a space between the bikini and the lower abdomen.'
'Bikini bridge' enthusiasts have been uploading their own images to 4chan, an image sharing site, and a Twitter feed and Tumblr dedicated to the cause have been established.
The hashtag #bikinibridge is circulating on Twitter.
Users of 4chan are keen to promote the fad, one writing: 'This should cause large enough of a stir to snowball into a fairly big subject.'
'After a fair amount of circulation has been accomplished, 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).
There are even facetious comments posted promoting the 'benefits' of possessing a 'bikini bridge' such as 'fitting an ipod into your bikini bridge' and 'getting a smoother tan line from your bikini bridge'.
Buzzfeed has also posted an article entitled '12 perks of having a bikini bridge' with reasons such as 'it is the ultimate beach accessory', 'Harry Styles will be 857 per cent more attracted to you' and 'you and your girls will become the talk of the town'.
As a result, in just 24 hours, what began as a hoax has snowballed. Thus, #bikinibridge and #bikinibridge2014 was tweeted more than 2,400 times, with Harry Styles's endorsement - which has since been deleted - receiving 115,359 favourites.
Lucy Attley, Dove Spokesperson who works on their self-esteem campaign, says: 'The bikini bridge is yet another example of piling pressure on women to feel increasingly anxious about their bodies.
'Our ambition at Dove is for beauty to be a source of confidence, not anxiety. We want to inspire women everywhere to feel good about the bodies they have, and not experience the constant pressure that drives beauty anxieties, portraying an ideal of beauty that is not real or reflective of women in the UK.
'The New Year should be a time when women everywhere are inspiring each other to redefine and embrace a more positive relationship with beauty.'
Body image and wellbeing expert Katie Lowe added: 'The bikini bridge is just another example of horrendous thinspiration that encourages young women to develop poor body image and self-esteem.
'Images like this used to be constrained to pro-anorexia websites - which are themselves dangerous, damaging communities for young men and women to encourage disordered eating behaviours.
'The fact that, alongside the thigh gap, the bikini bridge has now been covered by mainstream media sites as a positive attribute that women should aspire to have, just shows that ideas around women's bodies are getting worse, not better.
'Bikini bridge or otherwise, we need to learn that bodies are beautiful in all shapes and sizes - and encouraging young women to strive towards something like this is an unhealthy result of a body shaming culture which is causing over 4,500 girls aged 15-19 to develop a new eating disorder every single year.'