Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why We All Need To Care About Thigh Gaps....no, really....

At least three or four times a day, I see some story float by my news feed about thigh gaps. There is usually some extreme close-up shot of some young woman connected to a story about how their thighs are to be celebrated as an achievement in thinness, are supposedly desired by women of all ages, are this goal that we are all striving for, starving for.

I shake my head every single time.

I shake my head because I have daughters rapidly approaching the age where social media is going to impact their lives. The last thing I want to have them see floating by on their news feeds someday is a false proclamation that their beauty, their desirability, their worth, their value can be measured in the space between their thighs.

In all likelihood, this thigh gap thing will have faded by then and we'll be on to the next false measure of beauty being thrown at us from all angles.

As an adult, even as one who has struggled with anorexia in the past and whose mind can still drift that way when things spin out of control in my life, I am mostly able to ignore all the noise. I can see this movement for what it is, a fad, a trend, another way to attempt to demoralize young women by making their appearance more important than anything else.

I've never had a thigh gap, not even when I was starving myself and spending hours a day exercising to the point where I was fainting. Not even then.

You know why I didn't?

Because my body isn't designed that way. God knows I tried. My thighs in particular are not thin and even when I was literally killing myself to try and get thinner, I couldn't.

My body isn't designed that way, and neither are the bodies of my girls.

Even when they are thin, they don't have thigh gaps. They likely never will, because they are my children and there is something about our bone and muscle structure that prohibits such a gap even in the absence of fat.

And then there's the matter of fat.

I know, it's the F-word.

I saw another picture float by yesterday, and it said something to the effect of this:


I may have fist pumped the air for a hot second.

I did, but then within mere moments another post about thigh gaps appeared and I realized immediately that the ratio of body positive messages to body shaming ones is so skewed that it's no wonder that young girls in particular get sucked into believing them.

This is why we all have to care about thigh gaps.

Not because they are desirable...in fact most people I know (and most studies I've ever seen on the subject tell us) like women in all shapes and sizes. Even the ones whose thighs touch. Honest.

Not because they are even attainable...because many, many girls and women don't have body types that would ever create thigh gaps, no matter how thin they are. Other girls and women naturally have thigh gaps. People come in different shapes and sizes, and that's okay.

Not because they are any indication of beauty...because we are all beautiful in our own ways and because our uniqueness is the most beautiful thing about us. If we all looked the same, what a tragic and dull world we would inhabit.

Not because they are any indication of worth...because women have been fighting this fight to be valued for more than their physical attributes since the dawn of time and we aren't about to lose this war over the size of our thighs, especially when photoshop is so frequently involved (sometimes painfully obviously) in the twisted messages in the media.

Not because any of us really care if our thighs touch...because most of us don't. Even those of us who have struggled with eating disorders in the past. Most of us are more worried about whether we are strong and healthy and centered and fulfilled than measuring the circumference of one body part.

Not because we as women should even be giving this movement a moment of attention...because honestly we shouldn't. The more people talk about it, the more traction it gets. However, just because we feel like we shouldn't be paying attention to it, doesn't mean we can ignore it. We absolutely must talk about it...

...and we must because right now there are millions of little girls seeing the same messages we are seeing. We must work to undo the damage the media is doing to them. We must teach them to find their value internally, to push away this notion that they are supposed to seek approval from a society that will readily tell them if they are "hot or not". We need to build them up and teach them to be strong and healthy and centered and fulfilled.

We need to teach them that no one gets to define who they are or how worthy they are, regardless of the size of their thighs.

Then we need to teach ours sons the same thing.

5 comments:

  1. I was thinking about the part where you said we see more negative body image posts than positive and then I started thinking what if we just started posting more positive memes? I mean, all of us women with blogs and social media accounts? Even if we just made the effort to post one positive thing each day. I bet we could skew that ratio a bit, couldn't we?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post! I learned the word 'thigh gap' from you today. Love the fingernail pic. It's great to see posting on issues about girls and women from Mom's.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sooo much win right here!

    Love this so, so much :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Luckily, my kids are grown (2b 1g). As the lone male commenter, I do not understand the obsession with thigh gaps, or large breasts. Maybe I'm weird. My view on breasts is that as long as there are nipples, good. Thigh gap does not enter into the question of whether I like someone or not.
    Am I explaining myself correctly, probably not.
    Carry on, ladies.

    ReplyDelete

Some of My Most Popular Posts