A thigh gap is a space between the inner thighs of women when standing upright with knees touching. A thigh gap has become an aspect of physical attractiveness that has been associated with fragility and femininity. In the United States, it has been reported that among teenage girls, a gap has become a beauty ideal. Achieving a thigh gap is difficult for many women and has led to cases of extreme dieting or even surgery in order to try to obtain it. The thigh gap craze has been criticized as physically unnatural and a mostly unachievable body shape goal and as a cause of eating disorders. –Wikipedia.org
I had a conversation with my 12 year old daughter this weekend I thought I would never have. It went like this…
Me: Did you have fun swimming today?
Her: Yes! We played categories, and had handstand contests. _____’s mom wore a bikini and she has a thigh gap. I want a thigh gap. Just a little one. (said while holding her pointer and thumb a few inches apart.
Exactly. How do you respond to this? I was shocked, mad, sad, then active.
Shocked… I asked her how she even knew about a thigh gap? (her friend from school) And why she would want a thigh gap? (she doesn’t know.)
Mad… I flipped out. I told her that having a thigh gap is absolutely ridiculous and she couldn’t be friends with that girl anymore. I yelled a little about eating disorders and how society is crazy with these ideals. I preached about how these are just shells and when we die just our soul matters. I went on and on about her amazing strong body and the things her body can do with or without an effing thigh gap.
Sad…I started crying. She started crying. I hugged her and told her how much I loved her and her beautiful body. How I loved her sweetness and how she always helps others. I told her that her legs were so strong to help her run fast and play soccer. I reminded her how pretty her skin and her hair is . I hugged her little self until my heart felt better.
Active… Let’s get real-I will never have a thigh gap. But, I have my own insecurities. I wish my butt was smaller, and my thighs didn’t rub together. I wish my boobs looked the way they looked before I carried and fed my children. I try really hard to not talk about this out loud. I don’t label foods as good or bad. I try to not talk about losing weight but about being healthy. I mean…the bodies in this family are not meant for thigh gaps. We were not made to run marathons or fall over in the wind. We are strong, ox-like Pleasant people. We are built sturdy…we were born to run fast, to carry heavy shit, and to give gigantic hugs. There is not a thigh gap in our DNA. We hike mountains and take long walks on the beach, with anti-chafing gel on of course. (PS- Spray deodorant works well too.) I talked to my husband about it…He was honest with me. He said while I do use words like healthy, feel good and not label foods…I still I mention weight. I still weigh myself and measure my food. I still get frustrated trying on clothes, and keep a food journal. She sees that…even though I try so hard to set a healthy example for her, I realize I am not perfect and have some work to do myself.
The next day, my daughter and I took Toby for a walk around the block, and I brought it up again. I apologized for being mad and sad and explained to her it was only because I love her so much and think she is the most perfect little girl I have ever seen in my life. I told her that God made us all to shine in these different amazing ways. I told her the things I really loved about my body. I have crazy strong abs , nice teeth, and a brain that seriously will not quit. She told me the things she really loved about hers. She loves her olive skin, her cute feet, and her heart. We both love our hazel eyes, how strong our bodies we are. She did say that she changed her mind and decided she didn’t want a thigh gap anymore. (But there will always be something…what is next?)
My girl is just 12 years old. As she approaches her teenage years I want her to have fun, developing meaningful friendships, passions and hobbies. Not focus on the space between her thighs. Gap or no gap. She is beautiful. You are beautiful. Women are beautiful. <3
Thoughts? I would love to hear from you. This is a big issue. Be kind. XO