I’m pretty sure most people who frequent the internet or watch enough TV know what a thigh gap is. When someone has a “thigh gap,” their thighs don’t touch even when they put their legs close together. And like most things, thigh gaps have their opposing counterparts: thigh touch. When someone has a “thigh touch,” their thighs touch in most cases, even when they widen their stance. It is important to identify with one of these options, as it determines your self-worth.
Just kidding. The real issue with weird body fads like thigh gaps is that they simplify a much larger problem, which is the creation of and adherence to such arbitrary, superficial categories due to a lack of confidence.
Imagine a roomful of women of all shapes, weights, heights, etc. In an ideal world they can all chat and get along, but in this world, women get jealous and insecure when they are around other women. To remove or lessen this insecurity, we create categories for ourselves as a means of belonging, but in doing we create more isolation.
Enter the “skinny vs curvy” saga, the epitome of female insecurity. Image-based social media (Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest) overflows with pictures of “skinny” young women and “curvy” young women, many with overlaid “motivational” text such as “do you want hipbones or pizza?” or “real men like curves, only dogs go for bones.” Clearly, each points the finger at the other for being inferior.
Being confident in your body is not equal to building a false sense of entitlement because of your body. These categories are so detrimental to how girls see themselves, because when embraced, they result in either animosity between “skinny” and “curvy” girls or unnecessary pride in each group.
You don’t need to identify as skinny or curvy to allow yourself to belong. You don’t need to know which body type guys like best (there is no answer to this question). You shouldn’t feel empowered solely because you possess a certain body shape (though clearly it’s great to be happy with your body). You SHOULD feel wonderful about yourself because of intrinsic talents and abilities.
When little things like thigh gaps become the new “trend” in body ideals, avoid the temptation to judge yourself, positively or negatively, because of it. I, like many people, have dealt with body image issues that exhausted me mentally, emotionally, and physically, so I know that there are healthy and unhealthy ways to change your body.
When you place value on such trivial, fluctuating standards, you may initially feel accomplished and fulfilled upon achieving them. However, maybe the change doesn’t last due to a lack of commitment or physical ability to maintain a certain body shape. A thigh gap may have given you a sense of confidence, but if this confidence is lost along with the thigh gap, it really wasn’t a stable thing in which to place your worth.
The most important factor is not necessarily being content with your body as it is. If you want to change for health reasons or to realistically improve your appearance, that is admirable and safe. However, you need to be tolerant of your body during such a process, and find confidence not in the end result, but in your commitment to both the journey and self-respect.
I know this post focused on girls, but if you’re a guy reading this, the same basic idea applies. Don’t obsess about fitting into certain body stereotypes. For every girl that needs to be told she’s beautiful, a guy needs to be told he’s handsome.
Girls, you are beautiful! Guys, you are handsome!
Have a lovely week (: