The Fake "Ribcage Bragging" Trend Is Body-Shaming Of Thin People

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ribcaging thinspiration trend

We all come in different shapes and sizes.

Women are taking selfies in bikinis that show their chest bones and ribcages, and posting them on social media. 

This led the Daily Mail and the Independent UK to call this phenomenon a new trend — "ribcage bragging." 

But although there are skinny women posting bikini pictures that reveal their ribcages, there has been no trending of an actual hashtag #ribcagebragging or #ribcagebrag included in nearly any of them.

So is this really bragging or are these women simply expressing their body image positivity? 

The images of super-thin women are concerning to many parents simply because celebrity-centric young people might attempt to reproduce the slim bodies and evident ribcages they see in these photos. This has raised concerns about potential eating disorders or unrealistic body expectations for young girls.

Critics of the ribcage-centric selfies of Bella Hadid, Rita Ora, Nicole Sherzinger, and Kourtney Kardashian have warned that their photos could launch, or are in the process of launching this new and dangerous trend. But there's more to "ribcage bragging" than just the potential eating disorders that many of these concerned people have overlooked.

It's giving a voice to those who are naturally thinner and struggle to gain weight. Portraying them in images might make people with that same issue feel more comfortable in their own skinny bodies. 

Calling out thin people because of their weight is body-shaming, plain and simple.

I'm all too familiar with how ribcages have a way of showing their lines beneath the skin.

I have four children who are all extremely thin or have been at some stage of their lives.

When my older sons went through puberty, their gangly bodies concerned me. One stretch of their upper body revealed ribs for miles, and I feared the worst. Maybe they have an eating disorder? Maybe they aren't eating enough? Maybe something is seriously wrong?

I took one of my children to the doctor to find out why. My main concern was nutrition, but I was wrong. 

The doctor assured me that he was an ectomorph, a body shape that is thin, lean, and delicate, and I was an endomorph, a slimmer upper body and more prone to fat in my lower body. 


My attitude of worry was actually communicating to my child that there was something wrong, even when there wasn't. Worse yet, my fear was harming his self-esteem. What I needed to do was learn to respect that his body type would always be — for lack of a better word — skinny, and to teach him how to love himself.

Over the years, I've had to watch my thin children struggle with insecurity when it comes to accepting their body image and how it hurts their confidence.

They were afraid to take their shirts off when going swimming because they didn't want anyone making fun of their ribcages showing. When it was time to go clothing shopping, they dreaded it because there would literally be nothing that fit without a trip to the tailor.

So, when I saw headlines circulating social media about the new body image trend called "ribcage bragging," I wasn't alarmed.

A part of me recognized that some women and men have been marginalized in their right to embrace and even feel confident in their thinness.

Believe it or not, for individuals who are thinner than a size zero, it's a struggle.

I know. I've had to shop for someone who was rail thin, and I've been there when someone rudely offers to buy them a hamburger, or questions whether or not they are eating like they should be simply because their collarbones stick out, or their ribcages protrude more than what seems comfortable. 

That's why I think these photos aren't really bad at all.

Maybe so-called "ribcage bragging" is something that will ultimately help promote awareness and positive body image for many types of bodies. Perhaps it will say that it's perfectly okay to love yourself, showing ribcage and all, and won't be the next #thinspiration trend that ends up hurting the very body type it showcases.

Remember, super slim or not, you're beautiful the way you are. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.