A full bust, smaller figure and, now, a gap between the thighs will mark a female’s beauty. The perceived need for the thigh gap - a gap that occurs when a girl’s legs are so thin that her thighs don’t touch when she stands with her feet together - is a trend spreading across social media sites that has spurred what may be unhealthy diet or exercise habits.
This phenomenon is well-documented on sites such as Tumblr, where photos of silhouetted thighs with the coveted gap are labelled with phrases like “do it for the thigh gap.” Browsing the thigh gap or thinspo tag on Tumblr brings up blogs that promote ways to become thin enough to get the gap. Many of these blogs are also pro-ana or pro-mia blogs, which means they support and promote anorexia and bulimia.
Many health experts have come out against this trend because genetics and a natural body shape play so heavily into whether achieving that gap is feasible or healthy.
“I don’t think it’s realistic for most people,” said Julie DuBois, a nutritionist and dietitian at Fueled Fitness in Fort Worth. “You can have someone who is really thin who wouldn’t have that genetic build to get that gap. I grew up in the valley, and even the skinniest people won’t have that kind of build. It’s not necessarily a good goal, and it’s pretty much impossible to spot reduce. With exercise and a proper diet, you can see results overall, but you can’t just target that area.”
The ever-growing presence of thigh gaps on social media can facilitate its establishment as a social norm. Many studies have shown social media plays a large part in body image and self-esteem.
“I think that women shouldn’t be concerned with trying to manipulate their bodies to fit a social trend,” business junior Jesse Wallace, student coordinator of UTA Hosts, said. UTA Hosts is an organization that mentors freshman students on campus.
“Just be yourself. At the end of the day, you’ll never be happy being something else. And at the end of the day, the photos of the celebrities are photoshopped, anyway,” Wallace said. “Be comfortable with who you are and embrace that.”
Of 13 students interviewed, none said it was necessary for a girl to have a thigh gap to be attractive.
“At first, I didn’t think they were attractive, but then I saw them on models on TV,” software engineering junior Jessica Mireles said. “I admit I would try to achieve a thigh gap.”