Trigger warning: I will be somewhat discussing eating disorders.
When I first started my blog on Tumblr in 2010, a lot of posts I saw were “thinspo” or “thinspiration” which included pictures of girls with thigh gaps. It took me back to the days where a friend told me she wanted a thigh gap, and that your thighs shouldn’t touch. At the time, I wasn’t a personal trainer yet, so I didn’t think much of this, and didn’t think it was unhealthy or anything to want a thigh gap. I was remembering all of this because I saw Cassey from Blogilates posted on her Facebook page about searching for #thinspo, #thighgap and #skinny on social media platforms…I’ll get to that further below.
If you’re not sure what a “thigh gap” is, look it up on Google and a ton of pictures will show up.
As with any desire to change a certain body part, it becomes a problem when it is something one obsesses over. From what I’ve seen through social media platforms like Tumblr, it seems that younger girls are really striving for this. Looking through the hashtags on thigh gap pictures, you may find things relating to eating disorders. There are lots of workouts that also target this “thigh gap.”
Why It’s A Problem
Having a thigh gap could be an unrealistic goal…something many girls may never achieve. Why? Because part of it depends on your hips. If you have wider hips, you may naturally have a thigh gap. If you have narrow hips, you probably don’t and won’t – no matter how many exercises you do. Here’s a good visual (and post explaining the thigh gap) I found on Tumblr:
Girls are chasing something that they may never achieve, and may be doing unhealthy things in order to get the thigh gap (like eating less).
Now, I’m not saying that people with thigh gaps are unhealthy. I’m saying that we shouldn’t be so focused on one body part, no matter what it is.
Social Media & Its Role
While social media certainly helps promote thigh gaps and helps girls spread these “thigh gap workouts” and “thinspo,” social media platforms are also doing a good job of letting users know that searching for these key terms isn’t necessarily healthy. Cassey from Blogilates reminded me of this (as I mentioned in the first paragraph). I knew Tumblr had a pop-up message, but wanted to explore other pages as well.
For example, when I searched “thigh gap” on Tumblr, this was the message I got:
I think it’s a great message, and helps to promote healthy goals, as well as possibly help those who need it.
Here’s a message from Pinterest:
If you can’t read that it says, ” Eating disorders are not lifestyle choices, they are mental disorders that if left untreated can cause serious health problems or could even be life-threatening. For treatment referrals, information, and support, you can always contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or www.nationaleatingdisorders.org”
Cassey mentioned that no posts came up on Instagram for “thigh gap” and I searched as well, and it comes up as blank. However, if you search #skinny, a similar text pop-up as the Pinterest and Tumblr ones comes up.
Nothing yet for Twitter.
Whether it’s thigh gaps, flat stomachs, “toned” arms, etc. I always feel disheartened when someone is so focused on one part of their body. Sure, I want to lose some belly flab, but I know that there are healthy ways to go about it, and also know that it’s possible I may never have a visible six-pack. As I mentioned, it’s a problem when something like this is obsessed over, and the sole goal of eating “healthy” and working out.
Like I said, I’m not bashing anyone with a thigh gap. We shouldn’t focus on whether or not we have one…but why not shift the focus to how strong our legs are? Girls should strive to make their legs stronger, whether it’s through running, lifting, CrossFit, etc.
I’m glad social media platforms are also standing up and trying to help those who may need it. It’s a step in the right direction.
What do you think about the thigh gap? Have you heard of it before?
Time to be positive: Leave a comment with your favorite body part and why you love it!
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