I'd be willing to bet that plastic surgeons who specialize in liposuction are making a killing on women who want to achieve the ever elusive "thigh gap." In case you're not up on stupid mind-numbing body image conundrums, thigh gap refers to the free space in between a woman's thighs. If your thighs touch, you don't have thigh gap. If there is a good amount of space in between your thighs- congrats - you've achieved thigh gap. The standards of beauty are always in flux. Thin is and has been "in" for decades. When I was in grad school doing my thesis on a topic closely related to the subject of this post, the waif model look was on its way out. And thank God, for the most part we really don't see 100 pound six foot models gracing the runways.
I almost welcome trendy fashion that promises to tweak body parts, like skinny jeans or butt boosting yoga pants. At least all you have to do is wear something. You don't actually have to physically reassemble your body to look a certain way.
Here's the deal. Try as you might, but your bone structure will greatly determine how much thigh gap you have. Women with narrower hips are less likely to have a thigh gap, and women with broader hips are more likely to have a thigh gap. Another determining factor is muscle. The more muscular you are though the inner thighs the tighter that gap will be. And that's ok! Women who are weak through the inner thighs also tend to be weak through other areas that extend north toward the pelvic region. Thanks, but I think I'll hold onto that muscle tone for a while.
In no way am I taking aim at those women among us who are naturally thin, or those who came on this earth with a built in thigh gap. In fact, some women who have unnecessary body weight to lose might find a little light coming through their legs after they shed the pounds. But there are plenty of us who are not anatomically suited for this type of body structure. Don't feel bad about it. Just shoot for a healthy body. You're not doing anything wrong if you have strong legs and no thigh gap.
What ticks me off are the so-called fitness professionals who claim that anyone can achieve this look. Most are women. Most claim to be fitness experts. I think they're full of shit. And it frustrates me. If you're in the business of health and fitness, your focus should be on lifting people up and helping them focus on the benefits of a body that will not fail them because they didn't take care of it. I even came across one blogger who actually recommended that people who want to achieve thigh gap abstain from any leg strengthening exercises, like lunges and squats. She actually named the exercises to avoid. I could think of a million different ways to describe how I feel about this, but I'll just keep it to one word: stupid.
I get that women want toned, lean thighs! Really, I do. But concentrate on getting stronger, and stop worrying about how you wish your body was structured. Take, for instance, Lolo Jones. Amazing athlete. Lean, strong. No thigh gap. Such is life. I seriously doubt she's worried about it.
We have exactly one shot at this life. It's amazing that we live in a culture that is of such extremes. We are continuously growing, and getting bigger. But at the same time, we find new ways to obsess, lament and feel bad about cultural standards of beauty that are entirely out of our grasp. And even for those of us who attain it (whatever "it" is), is it worth it in the long run?
As trite as it may sound, these basic rules should apply to anyone wanting to achieve a healthy body, I think, inside and out:
1) Don't eat junk.
2) Move more.
3) Drink plenty of water.
4) Eat low to the ground, and not high from a shelf.
5) Stop berating yourself in front of the mirror. You won't see a change this instant, but you can make changes now.
6) Don't believe everything you read...especially if it's from so-called fitness pros who tell you not to strengthen your legs in order to avoid thigh gap.
7) Embrace, enhance and be proud of the qualities you possess. You may not realize it, but other people admire you for them.
8) Praise other people for their achievements. Be genuine. The world has a boomerang-like effect when it comes to that stuff.
9) Stop comparing yourself to your friends' highlight reels on Facebook. Everyone's life is full of ups and downs.
10) Find a passion that moves you - literally - and go for it. Even if that means pursuing several different passions at once.