The Illusive Thigh Gap
The “thigh gap”, an alarming trend that has been sweeping the nation among young women, has reached the point where it could be easily called an epidemic. Specifically speaking, the thigh gap is exactly what it sounds like: Young women are constantly looking and trying to achieve their thighs not touching. The thigh gap is everywhere thanks to Photoshop and social media. From magazines to catalogs, visual impressions of how we should look surround us. However, as much as models flaunt it, this look is unattainable if you weren’t born with the right body structure.
Those born with wider hips are more likely to have a thigh gap. Unless a woman’s body type has wide hips, it is unlikely that however little is eaten, they will be able to achieve the thigh gap they desperately want. According to Mia Holland, a psychiatrist, “It is the position of the hips and just the way the femur is attached in the hip socket, whether it’s turned in out or straight — and you can’t change that; you can’t change your physical makeup.” However, this has not deterred womens’ ambitions to reach this goal.
Not only is what many girls want to achieve near impossible if born with small hips, it has also become another goal for those suffering from anorexia and bulimia. Yet, there are tumblrs, pinterests, twitters, even a wikihow link on how to achieve a thigh gap. The wikihow link included everything from dieting to birth control to try to change a girl’s body shape. Tumblrs constantly post pictures of girls with a gap, encouraging them not to eat or to eat far less than a healthy amount of calories to obtain a thigh gap. This is incredibly dangerous, as many people with disorders such as bulimia and anorexia use these sites, especially Tumblr, and are only being encouraged by this.
The scariest thing about this new trend is that photoshopping someone on a cover is not to blame, social media is. Younger children are now using social media, and that is exactly where this idea is being talked about. When young girls, some as young as ten or eleven years old, see older teens talking about thigh gaps and how to attain them via Twitter or Tumblr, it has the possibility to change an entire generation’s view on their bodies.
When that happens, and social media becomes involved, with Twitters and Tumblrs devoted to showing girls how to attain something that is impossible unless a person has the right kind of body, parents now have to look at what the social networking sites are doing to help this epidemic. It’s easy to say “this magazine model has been photoshopped,” but it is much more difficult to explain to a young girl, or a teenager, that it is simply body shape, not weight that determines who has a thigh gap.
Some social media sites have tried to fight back. Pinterest and Tumblr have even gone as far as banning certain search words, such as “thinspiration” and other eating-related content, so that teens are not exposed to the thigh gap phenomenon and are tempted to endanger health for the illusive thigh gap. However, if a teen really wants to find something on the Internet, we all know it is very easy to find. Perhaps we can’t stop teens from finding out about thigh gaps, but we can educate each other on the truth behind the illusive thigh gap.