A few years ago, it was Michelle Obama’s arms that had women everywhere obsessed. Everyone wanted those toned, strong-looking arms. But lately, I’ve been seeing the term “thigh gap” thrown around constantly — as in, the gap between a woman’s thighs because her legs don’t touch when she stands with her feet together. Some women and girls are looking at the thigh gap as the pinnacle of thin perfection; a goal to aim for or a measure of dieting success or failure. Simply search for “thigh gap” on the Internet, and you’ll find pictures of the thigh gap being used as “thinspiration” everywhere. But the thigh gap as inspiration trend has gotta go, for a few reasons.
First, it’s nearly impossible for many women to achieve a thigh gap. I was watching The Doctors last week when Dr. Travis Stork brought up the issue of the thigh gap. He found two women for this demonstration: one was a size 6 with a thigh gap, and the other was a size 0 without a thigh gap. X-rays of their hips showed that it’s more about bone structure than the amount of weight or fat you carry: if your bones angle in and your hips are narrow, the thigh gap is virtually unachievable no matter how much you run or hit the treadmill. If your hips are wider, you may have a thigh gap no matter what your size or weight. He explains it in this video, which is worth a watch. Much like changing your height is impossible, so too is changing your bone structure to achieve the “thigh gap.”
Also, if you’re so focused on one area, you’re neglecting your overall strength and health. And when a goal like this becomes the measure of success or failure, it can be really unhealthy. Some psychologists worry that these types of images and goals can be dangerous and may push someone with an eating or exercise disorder to keep pushing themselves, when it’s virtually impossible to achieve. Not to mention that with photo editing and photo manipulation these days, some of these “inspirational” thigh gaps may not even be real.
We all need to remember that bodies are so different and diverse, and there is no cookie-cutter shape for beauty. While thigh gaps can and do appear on perfectly healthy women and girls, women who don’t have them aren’t failures or less pretty. There is no one body part or space between body parts that measures success or failure. I’ve always had a thin frame, and never in my life have I had a thigh gap. Instead of focusing on something absolutely unrealistic for myself, I focus on getting stronger, being able to go farther, and being able to keep up with my kids. So celebrate the thighs you have, gap or no gap. Make them stronger. But let’s ignore the gap.
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