Friday, February 28, 2014

From the Archives: When Did Everyone Start Caring About Thigh Gaps?

I wrote this post in June 2013. It's still really relevant! I actually started thinking of this topic a few weeks ago when I read an article about the mistreatment of professional cheerleaders; in the comments (big mistake, reading the comments) a commenter pointed out the "paunchy stomach" of one of the cheerleaders pictured. I wondered what this commenter would say about me! And then I wondered why I even cared! There are hundreds of ways to feel bad about your body. Something that is physically impossible for some people should not be one of them!

A few weeks ago, I read a really interesting article that posed a really fascinating question: When did we all start caring about thigh gaps so much? And where did the obsession come from? 

If you use Tumblr, or Instagram, or Twitter, or any social media site actually, you've probably noticed an obsession with thigh gaps. The impressive Casey of PopPilates has several "get a thigh gap" videos. Pinterest is flooded with simple work out routines promising thigh gaps and thin thighs. Tumblr is overrun with pictures of girls and their thigh gaps. It's become an internet obsession and let's be real, it's totally kind of creepy. I mean, do women really need another thing to nitpick our bodies about!? I'm already obsessed with the size and shape of my nose, my stomach, my chest, my arms, and my ankles. Please don't make me paranoid about the fact that my thighs touch, world. 

The article I read actually mentioned that it's confusing as to where the thigh gap obsession originated: obviously, there are roots in the pro-ana Tumblr community. Somehow, it spread to mainstream, to everyday not-that-eating-disordered women thinking that having thighs that don't touch is the ultimate measure of a perfect body and perfect health. And then, of course, it spread into pornographic images, which makes it's origins in pro-ana communities kind of, well, awful. 

It really got me thinking. For a few weeks, I followed a ton of fitness accounts on Instagram (which is a super weird community -- did you know some people blog exclusively on Instagram!?). I unfollowed all of them when I realized they made my body image issues worse, but I kept following one account that primarily posted pretty images and inspirational quotes. I mean, what's the harm in that? 

The other day, though, I noticed this account tagged every single photo with #thighgap. Um, excuse me? 

There are a few things we all should know. They are: 
  1. Having a thigh gap is not a measure of health. You can have a thigh gap and be overweight (yep!) -- it just depends on your body composition. You can have a thigh gap and be healthy. You can have a thigh gap and be very unhealthy. You can be very thin and not have a thigh gap. A thigh gap is primarily a measure in the width of your hips and your muscular structure. I mean, for real. 
  2. Losing weight to get a thigh gap is terrifying and if you're trying to lose weight to get a thigh gap, you need to reassess your issue. 
  3. No amount of exercise is going to widen your hips. Coming from a wide-hipped lady, trust me, you don't want that to happen. 
The thing is, some human bodies just aren't meant to look a certain way. I'm never going to look like Giselle Bundchen in a bikini: I'm not that tall, that tan, or that slim-hipped. It's just a fact. Some bodies aren't every going to have thighs that don't touch. And that's totally okay

As JK Rowling said, "Is 'fat' really the worst thing a human being can be? Is 'fat' worse than 'vindictive', 'jealous', 'shallow', 'vain', 'boring' or 'cruel'? Not to me.”

There are more important things in life than having a thigh gap. It's okay to want a body that is healthy and strong. It's not okay to try to manipulate your body into behaving a way that it just might not be able to. It's like a lactose intolerant person eating milk and cheese everyday, even when it makes them sick, because they feel like "to be healthy" they need to eat milk and cheese! Being healthy is about how you feel, throughout your day and about yourself. I've struggled for a long time with body image issues and I've spent my fair share of time in front of a mirror wondering why my belly isn't perfectly flat and why my butt is so dimpled. I've come to accept though that my body is a certain shape and I just have to work with it, not against it. And I'm happier for that.

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant post. I'm not sure where the thigh gap fixation came from. Even at my skinniest, my thighs touched. That's my body and I'm fine with the fact that (although I would like to lose some weight) my thighs are always going to touch, for me, it would be unnatural for them not to.


Thank you for commenting on Ellipsis! I try to reply to all comments, but replying on a blog post isn't always the easiest. If you have a question or want to start a conversation, don't be afraid to send me a message on Twitter @ellipsis_life. Thanks!