I just skimmed over a thorough, well-detailed online post about the thigh gap -- how to achieve it, fitness tips, diet tricks and so on. Maybe I'm hormonal at 19 weeks pregnant, but seriously? This is what we've come down to these days?
I'm all for varying body shapes and sizes. some people are naturally thinner than others, and I get that. But the messaging that bombards young (and old) women these days is seriously deteriorating at a ridiculous pace. It's not just that we're encouraging one another to get as thin as possible (using detox tea, green shakes and ice cube snacks), the problem is also in the fact that often showing off this "thigh gap" is a true sign of illness, and we're now glorifying it.
For those of you who don't know what #thighgap refers to, the term highlights the space between the thighs that might be evident when standing up straight with your feet tightly together on the floor. In an ideal, supermodel world, no skin/flesh should touch from the crotch to the knees while in this stance. That or only a small section should touch together about two inches below the crotch area, but only for an inch or so before the gap should reappear.
With the proliferation of personal social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and so on), I've seen more images of extremely thin female bodies than I've ever seen before. It's one thing to post pictures of yourself in your underwear to show off weight loss, vacation photos, or newly discovered muscle. It's another to post a photo of yourself in your skivvies to show off an obviously underweight body, and then add to that image a mug of steaming tea in your hand. The caption then reads: #thighgap #detoxskinnytea #skinnygirls #drinkyourselfskinny -- and so on.
I'm not ranting because this virtual conversation exists. Let's be honest -- the shrinking-in-size female form has been a hot topic for decades. It's because the messaging now is that much more visual and dominant.
What bothers me is that my goddaughter, sister and other young women who are more likely to consume this type of messaging see such photos and can end up interpreting them as goals. If all of these girls seem to be doing it, then it certainly must be obtainable, no?
Sure, when I was a teenager and well into my twenties, women encountered similar pressures both on television and in print (magazine ads and so on). The difference is that now we can't just blame corporate advertisers for showing unrealistic body proportions. This time, it's real people teaching other real girls how to strive for and achieve these (at times) unhealthy body sizes.
It saddens me to continuously see online self-proclaimed fitness trainers with upwards of a million followers posting images of super-thin girls, then talking about where to get cleansing tea, detox tea, or skinny tea to achieve a #thighgap.
Let's call it what it is, here -- these teas basically give the consumer diarrhea and dehydrate the bodies so you look lean and skinny until you actually eat or drink something of substance.
I'm currently on a mission myself to get fit, feel good and learn how others like me are achieving their own goals, which is how I keep coming across all of this ridiculous content. I'm looking for personal stories and other women like me to see how they're achieving success, and it's in these moments that I get frustrated.
And yes, I know, if you don't like something, don't follow posts or read them. I get it. I have a Master's in Journalism and I'm well aware of democratic principles. But, there are many much younger girls out there clicking the same profiles and links that might not be able to discern between healthy, motivational content and the other crap that's unrealistic, unhealthy and just plain ludicrous.
Unfortunately, there's no answer or solution to the above observations. But at least I can make a motion to encourage people to strive for muscular, fit thighs, in any shape or form, for both women and men. Let the "gap" exist in a clothing label, within a hedge and between your toes.
Please don't hate, but feel free to elaborate on your opinions below.
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