What the hell are you going to do when your daughter asks about thigh gaps?

Last night my husband informed me that I have a thigh gap.

“A what? What the hell is that?” (frantically feeling up my thighs)

“A thigh gap. All the girls want one. I just read about it.”

“Let me guess. New York Times Style section?”

“No. But everywhere else.”

He’s right. A quick Google search for “thigh gap” yielded about 10,000,000 results, including countless Tumblr accounts that serve as “thinspiration” for girls who want to gaze at photos of Victoria’s Secret angels and ordinary teens with long, coltish legs and post remarks about how their fat asses will never stick to a diet long enough to earn those legs.

For those of you who are as clueless as I am when it comes to the desires and pursuits of anyone under 25, let me fill you in on the ugly details: a thigh gap is just what is sounds like—a space between the inner thighs that most prominently shows when one stands still. Beyonce, one of the most beautiful women on the planet, has had her legs photoshopped to achieve the look, while one gorgeous 20-something coworker informed me that a thigh gap was “an unfortunate thing” that she “unfortunately wanted bad.”

To achieve this gap you must either be a recovering anorexic who eats healthfully and exercises but takes little joy in food and will forever be a bore at restaurants (ding, ding, ding, I win that prize), an actual active anorexic, or a naturally slender person barely out of her teens.

And yet young women are starving themselves in order to achieve this latest (and most bizarre) sign of female perfection.

As mothers of young girls, isn’t it enough that we can anticipate the heartache our daughters will experience when they don’t get the boobs they so desperately want? Or when they can fill a DD bra at age 13 and want to hide the boobs everyone else so desperately wants? We already expect that there will be stupid diets at 16 and that, at age 17, she will pull her skirt down and almost rip the hemline because she wants to hide her “fat thighs.” She will either abhor her belly and pull at it or reveal her belly every chance she gets because she hates her breasts and wants to compensate for them.

It is going to be a trial, for sure.

And now we have to worry about fucking thigh gaps.

And why? Because adult women like me won’t order dessert at restaurants. Because adult women I work with spend $400 on Isagenix to lose 10 pounds and then believe no one wants to speak with them because we are all jealous they lost weight (reality: we don’t want to speak with you because all you talk about is Isagenix).

Can we please all man up, read a newspaper, and talk about anything—anything outside of ourselves? At this point, I would even take something as trivial as Tebow or your many, many sexual pursuits.

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5 thoughts on “What the hell are you going to do when your daughter asks about thigh gaps?

  1. I can see why people think it is awful for someone to want what I now know is called a ‘thigh gap’ but I am one of those people. Not because I want to be super skinny or because it is some fashion fad but because of practical reasons. For example, you can’t wear a dress in the summer because your thighs rub together and it is painful! Not a nice feeling when you are going for a romantic walk along the beach on holiday…

    • I didn’t think of it that way. But doesn’t it have more to do with genetics than thinness? I assumed women I with more narrow hips, no matter how thin they are, would have a difficult time achieving this thigh gap.

      • I’m not sure to be honest. Maybe it is just the way we are built but I am certainly going to try and trim them down. I won’t know unless I try!

  2. I teach a Bible class to teenagers and we were recently watching a silly little film about self confidence when one my my girls (15yo) pointed at the projection and exclaimed, “No fair! She has a thigh gap!” (You should know that the film had nothing to do with bodies or body image). That freakin’ thigh gap.

    I like what you have to say, but I take issue this statement:

    “To achieve this gap you must either be a recovering anorexic who eats healthfully and exercises but takes little joy in food and will forever be a bore at restaurants (ding, ding, ding, I win that prize), an actual active anorexic, or a naturally slender person who just got her first period last week.”

    I think this is a form of thin shaming and I don’t think it’s fair. My sister is 29, has a child, has been menstruating since she was 11, and eats healthily but not restrictively. (The girl loves cupcakes). She also has a thigh gap. Lot’s of women have thigh gaps who fall way out of your parameters. It isn’t nice to lump all of these women into the categories of boring, body-obsessed, mentally and/or physically ill, or barely pubescent (which often translates in people’s minds to “barely a woman”.)

    I’m going to leave a few links to posts I’ve written in case you are interested.

    On Body Shaming: http://thepreppypanda.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/somebody-somewhere-hates-your-body/

    On Helping Other (Younger) Women With Body Image: http://thepreppypanda.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/body-hate-accomplices-its-not-the-medias-fault/

    • Thank you for your insightful remarks. You’re absolutely right. It is just as wrong to criticize thin women who have no control over their body shapes and metabolisms.

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