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thigh gap, body image

The Thigh Gap- Thinspiration for the Body Image Obsessed

by Deborah Cruz

This is where it starts: the coveted thigh gap. What the fuck is the thigh gap and how can I get one is what many teens are asking after seeing a recent segment on ABC that suggests that the thigh gap is the it status symbol this season for teen girls. I am here to tell you that the thigh gap is nothing new. Girls have been in pursuit of the thigh gap since the beginning of time. How do I know? Well, I was one of the chosen who had a thigh gap in my early 20’s. It was hard earned and I was proud of it.

What the hell is a thigh gap, you ask?

It sounds completely ridiculous. Believe me, I know. It is when a girl stands with her feet together and there is a small gap between the legs from the ankles to the top of the thighs. What does it mean? To those of us who are obsessed with body image or have lived in the skin of the eating disordered, the thigh gap is the coveted affirmation that we did it. It is the holy grail of thinspiration.

There are entire Tumbler sites devoted to the thigh gap. Not unlike pro-ana sites, these sites provide support for the girl in search of the thigh gap and praise when she succeeds. There is no one to worry about her health or tell her that she needs to eat, there is only “You go girl! Way to be dedicated.” No one cares if she is killing herself because they all are. Misery enjoys

No one cares if she is killing herself because they all are. Misery enjoys company and the internet makes sure that the miserable body image obsessed and sad little starving girls with eating disorders have a place forlike-mindedd support. Hell  yeah, they will support you right into the grave. Hell, they’d even be your pall bearers if you asked them. Now, that’s what I call friends. Of course, you’d need about 47 of them to carry your 65 pound body because they are all so frail.

The thigh gap is thinspiration to the disordered eaters and the body image confused but it is not new.

It’s just one more piece of pro-ana propaganda perpetuating the unattainable body image portrayed by the media. The thigh gap is usually seen on extremely stressed out actresses, people who have health issues and tissue eating waif thin models. Sure there are a chosen few who eat normally and have a natural thigh gap but everyone else? Well, they are most likely airbrushed. That’s the great thing about Photoshop; thigh gaps for everyone. God, I really wish I could be Photoshopped in real life. I’ve been in eating disorder recovery for 15 years and I still miss my thigh gap.

But there are a few dedicated girls, who will starve themselves in pursuit of the thigh gap. Girls who just will not take no for an answer; no matter the cost. Most women are not genetically designed to have a thigh gap. If you see a girl with a thigh gap, you are more than likely looking at a woman with an eating disorder who is starving herself to have a pair of stick thin legs to carry her weary body from the dinner table to the toilet or someone who is dying from some horrible affliction like cancer.

Teen girls these days want the thigh gap as a status symbol; like wearing designer clothing. If you have a thigh gap, you are perceived as having not only the perfect body but the perfectly unattainable body. You are like a fucking unicorn. It’s like having perfect C-cup boobs that will never sag or being born with no body hair except for eyebrows and the hair on your head. It is not natural and it is a fucking figment of your imagination.

I saw this segment and I thought to myself, I hope my daughters never look in the mirror and judge the worth of who they are based on a gap between their legs because we are more than what is or isn’t between our legs. Isn’t that what I’ve been trying to teach them since they were born? Then just as quickly, I caught myself looking in the mirror at myself longing for the place where my thigh gap once was, where now my thighs kiss and I was filled with shame. I’m a grown woman and the thigh gap is still a status symbol. It doesn’t gauge whether or not I am cool. It is the measure of my self-control or the lack thereof.

thigh gap, anorexia, bulimia, eating disorders, body imageThis is where the thigh gap ends

I wish I could say I was above and beyond the thigh gap but the truth is here I am still searching for that void. My point is this, if you see your daughter searching in the mirror for her own thigh gap, get her to a doctor because the thigh gap goes way beyond a status symbol, it is a disordered way of thinking and will most likely lead to disordered eating. The saddest part of all is that what may seem inconsequential and silly to you, to a teen girl who bases her self-worth on what others think, that little gap can mean misery and failure.

What do you think of teen girls chasing the thigh gap unicorn?


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becca 2013/04/02 - 11:11 pm

Great post. I am recovering from anorexia and body image is still difficult. A friend wrote about a similar topic you might be interested to read: https://thisnewfoundadventure.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-thigh-gap-why-it-means-nothing.html?m=1

Deborah Cruz 2013/04/03 - 3:28 pm

@Becca THanks. I read your friends post. I am so sorry that she is still struggling with her health. It’s so weird because when I read her post, you can always tell a person who has EDs because we use the same terms because we have lived that crap disease. I’m praying for her. I’m praying for you and I because the road to recovery appears to be forever. I’ve been recovered for 15 years and you saw from the post, the sickness is right beneath the surface. Fucking thigh gap. I can’t believe how happy it made me to have it and even though I know how crazy it is and know how sick I was, part of me will always want that thigh gap. GAH! Stay strong sister. Xo

Michael Lombardi 2013/04/13 - 6:39 pm

It’s kind of interesting from the other side. I’m a fat guy. Even when I was like 18 and in the best shape of my life, I still had a gut. I still had big legs and no arm muscles. I’ve always been self-conscious. Plus I had chest hair and pale white skin. I was 1 step shy of being that guy that swam with his t-shirt on.

Us guys experience similar unrealistic modeling. Sure, no one talks about it, but it’s damaging. I have no idea how eating disorder numbers compare, but if it’s not physically unhealthy for guys, it’s certainly just as mentally unhealthy as it is for you girls. I won’t get into the ways I’m screwed up in the head, but this post is just me trying to say while I haven’t been there, I kinda get it and am here for support.

Julia 2013/04/16 - 2:34 pm

So, I get your point… but I have to speak out against the judgement against and negativity toward the thigh gap as being the answer. I naturally had “thigh gap” back when I was a slightly healthier, fitter version of myself. I remember someone being so put off by the fact that I didn’t know what chub rub was that she was hesitant to be my friend (now one of my closest friends). I don’t think that spewing hate in the opposite direction is the answer. Why say people who have thigh gap are overly stressed actresses, anorexic models, or photoshopped? So many different body types out there. I think it’s best to encourage people to be the healthiest, happiest, most confident version of themselves – and that might just include thigh gap. And it might not.

Deborah Cruz 2013/04/16 - 6:18 pm

I have no idea what a chub run is and that is kind of extreme for someone to not want to be your friend because you didn’t know what it was. I am sorry if you thought I was spewing hate. My issue with the thigh gap stems from my own love hate relationship with my body and the thigh gap. I wasn’t meaning that every woman that has a thigh gap was an anorexic. My only point of reference is myself and when I had the thigh gap, I was in the throes of an 8 year battle with eating disorders.
I think if someone is naturally built that way then that is great. My point was that teen girls should not be punishing and torturing themselves in pursuit of a nearly impossible goal. I truly did not mean to offend anyone, especially not someone who is just naturally thin and built with one. My issue is not with the thigh gap but with how most teens are getting them and the importance and self-value they are putting into them.
Thanks for weighing in. I sometimes need to be reminded of other perspectives.

Frassy 2013/06/30 - 8:04 am

Thigh gap doesn’t automatically = thin. It happens naturally when a woman has wide hips. I have a friend who has curvy wide hips with beautifully thick thighs (a feature that men of African descent absolutely love). She had a thigh gap and was vegan weighing in at a healthy 140lbs while I, at the time weighed 120lbs, naturally thin, but with no thigh gap because my hips were just not built like that. I now weigh 135 post childbearing years, still no thigh gap but I think this is the sexiest I’ve ever been. I love my body.

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Maggie 2013/07/26 - 1:30 am

You don’t have to be anorexic to have a theigh gap I have one and I eat normally i weigh about 95 pounds and am 5,5

Mary 2013/07/31 - 10:31 am

95LB AND 5FT 5 IS A BMI of 15.8…According to much medical information- that is very underweight. Normal BMI is 18.5. While you may not have an ED you are very underweight

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