Stop the Thigh Gap Madness!

Until a few weeks ago, I was blissfully unaware of the new madness sweeping among some teenage girls. The new fad is the “Thigh Gap.” What is a thigh gap, you ask? (I had to ask, too!) A “thigh gap” occurs when there is a tiny triangle you can see through between the tops of the thighs. In my opinion, most women who have a thigh gap either look skeletal or bowlegged, neither of which is attractive. Having a thigh gap is simply not natural for most women. Women who have one naturally can celebrate that fact. Many who do not have a natural thigh gap are turning to extreme and often dangerous methods to create one. Please note I am not criticizing women who have a natural thigh gap. I am, instead, hoping to encourage women to love their Mannequinsbody as it is and to take a balanced, healthy approach to fitness and wellness.

Here are eight reasons to NOT have a thigh gap if your body does not have one naturally:

  1. It’s a scam:  The thigh gap focus was created by modeling agencies who wished to “guilt” their models into losing weight. They created an absurd focus that had never existed before. The thigh gap had almost been forgotten until social media brought it back. Unfortunately, girls between the ages of 12-21 are spreading the focus and perpetuating the dangerous fixation. Teen girls often learn about the thigh gap from social media, and then use social media to share and perpetuate the misinformation. Parents need to be aware of their daughters’ views on body image and to provide education about good nutrition, healthy eating and normal anatomy.
  2. Most people can never achieve a thigh gap:  Most people, regardless of how thin or fat they are, cannot achieve a thigh gap. The reason is quite simply because the female body is not designed to have a thigh gap. The structure of the pelvis and femur (thigh bone), combined with the natural flesh and muscles of the thighs, do not allow for a gap. The upper thighs are very muscular. Having a thigh gap may be impossible without losing muscle, which is dangerous for a wide variety of reasons. Muscle loss slows metabolism and leads to weaker bones. The methods used to lose muscle, such as starvation and ketoacidosis, negatively affect and weaken other muscles, including the heart muscle. Taking extreme measures to reduce muscle mass in order to create a gap that shouldn’t be there in the first place is dangerous. Period. The desire to lose muscle scares me more than the fixation on having a thigh gap large enough to read the billboard behind you.
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  3. Many of the thigh gaps you see are faked:  It is a simple fact that you can create a thigh gap simply by changing how you stand. Spreading the heels, sticking the buttocks out, or turning the legs a bit, These are all “valid” ways of creating a thigh gap for the camera. For the record, those methods are far safer than eating cotton balls or subsisting on less than 500 calories per day.
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  4. Having a thigh gap doesn’t matter if you’re dead:  Many young women are going to extremes to achieve a thigh gap. Rates of anorexia and bulimia were starting to fall but are now on the rise again. I’ve read stories of young women literally starving themselves in an attempt to gain a thigh gap. Nothing is worth destroying your health. Nothing.
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  5. Diet and exercise won’t change genetics:  Your pelvic width and the angle of your legs are structural commodities which cannot be changed by losing weight. Both of those factors are largely genetic. Although food has the capacity to turn some genes on and off, it does not have the power to change the bone structure you were born with.
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  6. A healthy body image does not focus on a single attribute:  Most women have a very negative perspective about their body. They have been brainwashed to believe someone else’s definition of a perfect body is the only acceptable way to look. This breaks my heart. Body image should be a healthy acceptance of all parts of our body and should not solely focus on a single attribute. Many of the teen girls whose Tumblr pages I reviewed while researching this article were so obsessed with thigh gap that the girls ignored the fact they had sculpted abs, gorgeous arms or other attributes most women crave. Body image needs to be a loving and accepting attitude of our entire body, not a measuring stick that deems all body parts a failure if a single area does not meet an unrealistic goal. ,
  7. It serves no purpose:  Having a thigh gap does not provide any benefit other than being able to say you have one. Most other forms of fitness and exercise improve wellness and have measurable health improvements. Having a thigh gap does not improve the world, will not improve your social life and will not result in living happily ever after. Contrary to what the Tumblr boards say, it also will not guarantee that men will want to get to know you better. Creating a physical attribute that can only be seen when you’re almost naked will not attract the types of people who will support and encourage you in the real world. Trust me.
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  8. If it requires elective surgery, you’d best not elect it:  The recent trend in thigh gap obsession has led more than one plastic surgeon to use “new” procedures to create a thigh gap. Procedures including liposuction, surgical reduction and lipoglazing (a less invasive procedure that melts and then freezes fat cells) are being used. The end result may create a thigh gap, but at what cost? The procedures are all very expensive, and most have a large list of risks. Some create pain and bruising that can last for several weeks. Using invasive and risky procedures to create a thigh gap is an extreme measure I strongly advise against..

Are you aware of this craze? What are your thoughts?

Graphic courtesy of Pierre Nel.

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Dr. Pamela Reilly is a Naturopathic Physician dedicated to helping people improve their health and eliminate symptoms using natural, integrative methods. She has over 25 years of experience and has helped men, women and children improve their health using a holistic, client-centered focus. She sees clients in Indianapolis, does house calls, and also conducts consultations via Skype or telephone. Please feel free to contact her or visit her Consultations page for more information. Dr. Pamela speaks nationwide on a wide variety of health topics and welcomes speaking invitations.

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