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.