Have you heard of the thigh gap? It’s the latest trend in torturing teenage girls and young women into starving themselves to achieve a look. What is the look? It is when the thighs do not touch even when a person stands with feet together.
Eating disorder experts are voicing concerns over the trend, which is becoming increasingly popular on twitter and the Internet, with virtual how to guides for girls to achieve the look through starvation diets and unhealthy exercise.
Doctors note that attempting to achieve the so-called thigh gap is dangerous and, for most people, impossible as it is genetic. The gap comes from some of the recent runway looks where extremely thin models showed the gap in modeling shorts. This sparked countless tumblr pages, blogs and other sites offering instruction in how to achieve the look.
The concern is that there will be a spike in eating disorders in the United States. According to the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders, more than 24 million people in America are affected.
Peer pressure, always at the forefront of teen angst, no doubt plays a part. A study at the University of Haifa found young girls who spent the most time on facebook and other social media sites were most bombarded with negative body image that resulted in the chances of developing an eating disorder.
Dr. Vonda Wright is a Pittsburgh-based orthopedic surgeon. She commented to media outlets that the spacing between a person legs is genetic and almost impossible to achieve through diet or exercise. She also noted the even very thin people may not have a thigh gap. She said you must be both skinny and wide-hipped.
“Skinny does not mean fit or muscular,” said Wright, who works with Division I athletes. “I cannot think of one athlete I deal with” who has a thigh gap.
A 22-year-old anorexic told therapist Kim Callaway that she was a frequent visitor to sites that promoted “thigh gap.”
She said, “The sites offered photos of slender-legged models, testimonials on how to achieve the gap and tips such as chewing food but spitting it out before swallowing.” She also commented that some sites featured photos of holocaust victims and even featured those hwo dies from eating disorders as martyrs.
Callaway says it’s not uncommon for therapists to tell clients to avoid social media and its praise of perfection. She even encourages her patients to delete face book as it makes it that much more difficult for those with eating disorders to cope.
She cites examples of people posting what they’ve eaten, bragging of how little they eat and how much weight they’ve lost. Without the ability to connect in such an instant way and measure themselves against others, her clients have a better chance of healing.
Women have long been known to torture themselves for weight loss following stringent diets and attempting to conform to an unrealistic body image. This newest iteration, the thigh gap, seems nothing more than trending torture.
Written by Linda Torkelson