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. Actually, scratch that… there are higher chances of my becoming a princess than there are of 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.
In theory, it’s simple: The thigh gap is when you stand with your feet together and there’s a space between your thighs. Yeah that’s it. Your thighs touching are what’s the problem, apparently.
In practise, it’s rare enough that something like 5% women in this world will have a 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”. It’s the body trend that’s launched thousands of blogs, memes, eating plans, workout regimes and inspirational quotes.
Passionate followers have also created Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts dedicated to this super-skinny phenomenon.
Thigh gap have now become the pinnacle of perfection: A measure of weight loss success or failure. Again, repeat after me: Your thighs touching are what’s the problem, apparently.
And this latest body obsession is downright scary and implausible, for many reasons.
Why I (and most possibly you) will never have the thigh gap
I went through most of my life being grossly underweight (am making up for it in spades now!) but have never seen even the slightest hint of a thigh gap on my frame. And neither will 95% women across the world, even if they diet and exercise down to a size 0.
He brought along two women for the demonstration: One was a size 6 with a thigh gap, while the other was a size 0 without a thigh gap.
Their hip X-rays revealed how the skeletal structure determines whether or not you will have a thigh gap: 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 a thigh gap regardless of your size or weight.
And no dieting or fitness regimen is going to 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 thighs touching each other!
In fact, a lot of doctors and other experts blame the advertising industry and its liberal use of Photoshop for pushing this kind of impossible body ideal. As Lynn Grefe, former President of the National Eating Disorders Association, put it: “With photo editing and photo manipulation these days, most of these… are not even real images.”
Extreme measures for how to get thigh gaps?
But when has a little biological or physical impossibility stopped us in our quest for the latest fad? Remember the cotton ball diet? Or the IV transfusions? Similarly, thigh gaps are now being served up in many a doctor’s office, using seriously questionable measures.
For example, cosmetic surgery clinics have seen a rapid rise in demand for CoolSculpting, a fat-freezing treatment, on the inner thigh area. It works on the principles of cryolipolysis, which breaks down fatty tissue with special cooling technology. This causes fat cells to die off and then get eliminated by the body over a few weeks — which ostensibly stops your thighs touching each other.
Others talk about the more easily 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 fat… possible after-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.
Even women who shy away from the surgical route fall prey to extreme dieting and exercising in their desire for thigh gaps. Do a quick search and you will find plenty of teens 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 really unhealthy. Think what it would do to someone with an eating or exercise disorder… not a pretty end result, for sure.
Me thinks I will just sit this one out. Rather than focus on something so unrealistic and fraught with dangers, I would rather work at getting stronger, healthier and more toned overall. You too? Right?
So let’s celebrate the thighs we have, gap or no gap. Make them stronger but let’s ignore the gap.