Why We Should Trash the Thigh-Gap Obsession

First of all, what is a thigh gap and what does it mean? The thigh gap is when there’s a space between your thighs when you’re standing straight with your feet and knees touching. For some people, it essentially acts as a second scale that measures body image based on just having a thigh gap and some people praise gaps the wider they get. To people who idolize the thigh gap, having one is the equivalent of meeting the ultimate standard of beauty.

Recently, Target was involved in a controversy where the company posted pictures of bikini models on their website that evidently photoshopped unrealistically widened thigh gaps on already skinny models. Target, of course, isn’t the first company to attempt to subconsciously reinforce the beauty standard of having a thigh gap. The idea has been around for quite some time, gaining popularity in fashion magazines, runways, and across the Internet. Websites like Tumblr, Twitter and Pinterest have online “thin inspiration” communities where tags like #thinspiration and #thinspo are used as captions for photos of thigh gaps.

For some thigh-gap idolizers, dieting and exercise that doesn’t result in a wide enough thigh gap indicates ugliness. This type of thinking reveals how much power companies like Target and fashion magazines have to manipulate ideas of beauty onto people. While we have the power to define our own self-worth, using the thigh gap to measure our beauty becomes a waste when we instead hand that power over to interests that convince us into believing that beauty standards are laws of nature rather than man-made ideas.

When being healthy and fit isn’t good enough anymore, we need to ask ourselves why the thigh gap matters so much. What are we trying to get out of all of this? To whom are we trying to prove our self-worth to? When we use something as unrealistic as a thigh gap to measure our own beauty, we put ourselves in competition against ideas of beauty created by advertisers and magazines that are completely unrealistic and have nothing to do with how we really feel on the inside. The more power we give others to tell us how to feel about ourselves, the more we grow too dependent on others to control our self-image and become less dependent on our own abilities to understand what our true beauty really is.

Will having a thigh gap make us beautiful? Probably not. What matters more than having a thigh gap is feeling beautiful and knowing that we are the ones who empowered ourselves to feel that way. So, forget the thigh gap! Instead, we should focus on the things that make us feel empowered so much on the inside that it shows on the outside. Size is only a number and the thigh gap is only an unrealistic fad. Real beauty, though, is the happiness and self-confidence we allow ourselves to feel and show.

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About Author

Kristine Hoang is a freelance writer and graphic artist based in Orange County, Calif. She graduated from UC Irvine with a degree in history and currently writes about food, education, career and lifestyle for various alternative weekly newspapers and online publications. Besides writing, Kristine has former experience in fashion, non-profits, and graphic design. To learn more about Kristine and her work, visit her About.Me page.

Posts By Kristine Hoang
  • J C

    You failed to mention that some people WILL NEVER HAVE A THIGH GAP because of the way that their bodies are built. Having wide hips will give you a better chance (not guaranteed!) of having a thigh gap than those with narrow hips.

    IMO the only good thing about having a “thigh gap” would be that the inner thighs of my pants wouldn’t be the first thing to wear out!

    I still agree that a thigh gap is an unrealistic fad that hopefully passes soon!

  • disqus_aIjGZfEnBV

    While I agree that most people won’t have a thigh gap and it’s not something worth aspiring to, I’m really frustrated with all the negative press it has been getting as well. I have naturally VERY wide hips that I have been criticized for ever since puberty. At a size 10 with 23″ thighs, I’m not exactly overweight but nowhere near very thin. Yet because of my very wide hips, I do have a thigh gap.

    Thank you for taking the higher road with this post by not commenting on the thigh gap as ugly or disgusting. I’m just really tired of hearing about this, though, because even though this is supposed to be some sort of “fad” everything I’ve been hearing about thigh gaps is negative.

  • Cee Gee

    I agree that having a thigh gap is neither here nor there. It isn’t necessarily beautiful or not beautiful. It just is (or isn’t).

    I am overweight (and have been since I was a small child), so I have no idea if I’ll ever have a thigh gap. Maybe, because I have relatively thin legs, but probably not since I have narrow hips. My femurs just don’t sit that far apart. Not a huge deal.

    I agree that it’d be nicer for jeans to have one – less wear on the insides of the legs! Although honestly I don’t actually get that much wear there anyway. I’ve only had two pairs of jeans ever that wore out in that area. My friend who is 55 lbs lighter than me has more trouble with that because she carries more weight in her thighs (despite having wide hips).

  • Sarah

    That’s the thing about beauty. There is no “one size fits all” – when I was a little kid, I was anorexic (not by choice, I was severely malnourished) and i had a thigh gap, but i also had legs so skinny an adult hand could easily go all the way around my calf. I hated it. Now, older and in control of what I can eat, I don’t have thigh gaps, and I love it! For me, i hated having them because I knew it was a sign of my unhealthiness. My sister, who had always been quite bigger, used to comment on how jealous she was of the gap I had, which makes me realise now how unhealthy her body image was. I guess we just need to know our bodies & accept the way it looks when it’s at a healthy weight.

  • MrSpongebobFangirl .

    I don’t think it has so much to do with beauty in my case as it does for comfort. Let’s be honest–if you don’t have a thigh gap, your thighs rub together when you walk, creating irritated skin and it’s unbelievably uncomfortable. THAT’S why I want a thigh gap!