Confession: Yes, I would like to have the thigh gap.
I would also like to be the crown princess of a glam European country (Monaco would do nicely, thank you!).
Unfortunately, neither is likely to happen. Scratch that… there are higher chances of my becoming a princess than my getting a thigh gap.
Not unless I am willing to go in for reconstructive surgery, at least. And that’s never going to happen.
What is the thigh gap, anyway?
In theory, it’s simple: The inner thigh gap shows up when you stand with your feet together and have a space between your thighs.
Yeah, that’s it — a gap between your thighs. Your thighs touching is what’s the problem.
No, it doesn’t come as news that young women — including high school students and college girls — are exploring yet another dangerous body trend, but what’s truly alarming is that even being “skinny” is no longer the ultimate pinnacle for many girls.
The thigh gap has now become the pinnacle of perfection: A measure of weight loss success or failure.
Again, repeat after me: Your thighs touching is the problem.
And this latest body obsession is downright scary and implausible for many reasons.
In practise, it’s rare enough that something like 5% women in this world will have a natural thigh gap without resorting to drastic and dangerous measures. Despite this (or maybe because of this) teeny, tiny percentage, thigh gaps have become the most coveted “It accessory”.
The trend has launched thousands of blogs, memes, eating plans, workout regimes, and inspirational quotes. Some gyms even have a curated program around thigh muscles exercises (sumo squats are super popular!).
Why I (and most possibly you) will never have a gap between the thighs
I went through most of my life being grossly underweight but have never seen even the slightest hint of a natural gap on my frame.
And neither will 95% of women worldwide, even if they diet and exercise down to a size 0.
He brought two women for the demonstration: One was a size 6 with a gap between her thighs, and the other was a size 0 without a hint of a gap.
Their hip X-rays revealed how the skeletal structure determines this phenomenon: If you have narrow hips and your bones angle inwards, thigh gaps are virtually unachievable no matter how much you exercise or starve yourself. If your hips are wider, you may have one regardless of size or weight.
And no dieting, fitness regimen, or thigh gap exercises will change your bone structure, just like nothing can change your height.
So, even if you are a size zero, there’s still a chance of your inner thighs touching each other!
Many doctors and other experts blame the advertising industry and its liberal use of Photoshop for pushing this kind of unrealistic beauty ideals that lead to seriously low self-esteem, body dysmorphia (negative body image), and other mental health issues.
As Lynn Grefe, former National Eating Disorders Association President, says, “With photo editing and photo manipulation these days, most of these… are not even real images.”
Similarly, gaps are now being served up in a cosmetic surgeon’s office, using seriously questionable measures beyond dieting or sumo squats — like a thigh lift and other surgical procedures.
For example, cosmetic surgery clinics have seen a rapid demand for CoolSculpting, a fat-freezing treatment on the inner thigh. It works on the principles of cryolipolysis, which breaks down fatty tissue with unique cooling technology.
This causes fat cells to die off and then get eliminated by the body’s lymphatic system over a few weeks — which ostensibly stops your thighs from touching each other.
Others talk about the more readily available liposuction, where the doctor makes an incision in your skin and then uses rods that have a little hole in the middle to suck out the “extra fat”… possible side effects include swelling, bruising, soreness, oozing, an uneven skin surface and damage to the nerves and skin.
Oh, and for a fraction of people, death.
Not much to worry about, then. All for some fat reduction to meet simply unrealistic beauty standards.
Even women who shy away from the surgical route fall prey to extreme dieting and exercising in their desire for a gap between their thighs. Do a quick search, and you will find plenty of teenage girls committed to starving in the hopes of living up to this super-skinny trend.
And when a goal like this becomes the measure of success or failure, it can be unhealthy. Think what it would do to someone with an exercise or eating disorder … not a pretty result.
I will sit this one out.
Rather than focus on something so unrealistic and fraught with dangers, I would work at getting stronger, healthier, and more toned overall with a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Build muscle rather than break down my body. You too? Right?
There is, after all, an essential distinction between getting to your healthy weight vs. irrationally obsessing about the width of your hips.
So let’s celebrate the thighs we have, gap or no gap. Make them stronger but let’s ignore the gap.