Mind the Thigh Gap?
I was disheartened recently to learn of a new way that young girls are finding themselves and their changing bodies inadequate. It’s called the “thigh gap.” Apparently images of models, particularly in advertisements for skinny jeans or leggings, show them with a space between their inner thighs when they stand with their feet together. Even more worrying, increasingly young girls are posting images of themselves on social media outlets, boasting their own thigh-gaps, or worried about the fact that they don’t have the gap, and their inner thighs actually touch when they stand. There are tumblr blogs and Twitter and Pinterest accounts with unhealthy instructions on how to attain this desired “gap.”
“Space” can mean two different things: absence or presence. Outer space is nothingness, absence. But matter (animals, vegetables, minerals) has presence. It takes up space. Human beings occupy space. We have presence. But the media has tried for a very, very long time, an in many different ways, to convince girls and women to aspire to absence – to be quiet, to diet, to shrink, and now to mold our legs and hips so that when we stand with our feet together empty space exists from our vaginas to the floor.
But why would we want absence? Don’t we want presence? As it turns out, your growing body wants to take up space. To do this, it has a timing all its own – some of us develop sooner, some a little later - and it involves a redistribution of fat to your hips and breasts, which “fill out.” Your period starts. You become a woman. If you do not attain and maintain your particular body’s appropriate weight, you will not have your period. Your period will be absent, and that will be a sign that you are not at your healthiest.
In the London subway, called the Underground, there are signs that warn people to “Mind the gap!” This means, “be careful of the empty space between the subway car and the platform.” I’d like to say to all you beautiful, growing, developing (each in your own time) young women out there: “Mind the gap!” Be careful of emptiness. Please do not aspire to: empty bellies, depleted energy, shallow thoughts of how to mold yourself to size 00, or spaces between your legs. Instead, aspire to fill your body and mind with good things – healthy delicious food, exercise, time with real friends in the real world, books, music, and laughter. Be full of yourself. Be healthy.