Thigh gaps aren’t magic

I do not have a thigh gap, which is when a person has a space between their thighs when their feet are touching due to very slender legs, nor have I ever had a thigh gap. Yet, I remember feeling like I needed to get one in elementary school when everyone called me fat and told all the girls with very thin legs, a gap between them and bigger bottoms that they had nice asses. But me, when did I ever get the nice ass comment? I didn’t. And that was a big deal for me, at the time. If I didn’t have a nice ass, then who was I? Just some square-shaped awkward Italian girl who ate pasta eight times a day, I guess.

Not too long ago, I was having dinner with my aunts, uncles and cousins when my dad’s youngest sister turned to me and said, “What is this thing about girls trying to lose weight to get a thigh gap?”

I now know we are all born with different features, characteristics and bodies and the hardest part about being born as people with so many differences is that we have to come to terms with just how different we are. We might be a bearded lady or a hairless man, out there defying all the stereotypes and expectations surrounding our genders, races, sexualities and cultures because that’s how we were born, and that should be okay.

But, the truth of the matter is: There will always be cynical people out there who tell you it’s not okay to be who you are. They tell you only half a steak is a portion, that a size eight isn’t something to be proud of, that crying over a bad day means you’re weak, that not wanting to paint your nails makes you less feminine, that only men should have to worry about chin hairs and that ring fingers on our left hands are solely for the moments when we say, “I do.” These people are the same ones who believe thigh gaps, which can be natural depending on a person’s body type, are something everyone can attain.

A really creepy video was recently posted by Nowness.com, a website that calls themselves, “A cultural platform for digital storytelling,” that glorifies this scary trend. This video is called “The Magic Gap.”

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 10.29.32 PM

This video, linked to the photo above, glorifies the thigh gap by basically zooming in on girls’ bottoms as they walk in very tight skinny jeans (the kind of pants that give you wedgies with any type of underwear), accentuating the space between their legs. We see no faces throughout the video, though every lady with a bum does also have a head, and hear calming elevator music as people, who could be between the ages of seven and 30, talk about what this “Magic Gap” could mean, in an almost beautiful way that had me considering if the video was really about how ignorance is bliss, or something. But, oh no, the video is truthfully about the thigh gap obsession. And, instead of doing something epic with this video and showing bums of all different body types, Nowness.com just focuses on how awesome gaps are, in every sense of the word.

Thanks, Nowness.com, for bringing me back to grade seven.

Making a video that addresses the thigh gap issue is one thing, but making a video that just goes along with it is entirely another. I’d like to think Nowness.com was trying to be ironic and clever, but something tells me that notion is wrong.

The problem with the thigh gap trend? It’s risky and being used as thinspiration (thin+inspiration) all over Tumblr and many other social media platforms. There is an Instagram profile dedicated to thigh gaps called “bestthighgaps.” The brand also has its own website.

Young people are literally starving just to reach this absurd level of “beauty” because we have allowed traditional and new media to explode with ideologies that skinny is better. Continuously enforcing pressures on young people to look and be a certain way can lead to depression, suicidal behaviour and severe eating disorders, as explained in this Dailymail article. The Dailymail also points out there is no way we can know how many deaths the thigh gap trend has caused, nor how many eating disorders, but experts believe consistent exposure to online images of these standards of beauty does definitely increase risks for depression, low self-esteem and unhealthy eating behaviours.

In other words: Nowness.com, you didn’t help.

We all have that one body part we wish we could change, but instead of continuing to be a culture that finds ways to fix what we call issues, we need to take a stance against these unrealistic standards of beauty and literally tell them to jump off a cliff. What are they doing to our society? We don’t need any more people feeling worthless and unimportant because of how they look.

Instead, we need to show people everywhere that the best way to live this life is to live it happily. We need to own our imperfections, starting by loving the chub (or lack thereof, if that’s how your body was made) between our legs.

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