Thigh gap and the athletic woman

I came across this article recently (about an American Eagles online ad and the impact of showing excessive thigh gap to their young demographic) and I feel a need to bring it up for discussion. I’m horrified by this concept of “thigh gap”. Unaware of this term? It’s literally the gap between your thighs when you’re standing straight, feet together. Go ahead: stand up, look down, tell me if you have any gap. I’m pretty confident you don’t.  I will mention that, of course, some women will have thigh gap.  Absolutely, some bodies are built for that, very lithe and lean.  The issue is in promoting an unrealistic concept for many as “the” ideal.  For many girls (and women), thigh gap is just not possible and it results in those unhealthy expectations and desires.  Of course, this is merely the latest trend in fashion and modelling – the bigger the gap, the more desirable you are.

My thighs & I at Lundbreck Falls

Gap? Nope! I don’t see a gap (but I had just cycled from Nova Scotia through Alberta at this point).

It makes me shudder and reminds me of when I was a teen, being told that I would never be able to make it in high fashion due to my hips (I was scouted for modelling but it went nowhere: they wanted me to quit hockey and rugby!).   I don’t want to imply that this particular agency was endorsing the fad at the time (who remembers Ally McBeal?) but they were very clear that high fashion models had significantly slimmer hips and that many young women and girls were resorting to surgical procedures to chip away at hip bone. At 15, I just gasped: surgery? to slim my hips? And at 15, I hadn’t actually filled into my “womanly proportions” that I now have. Seriously, my hips are HUGE! As are my thighs!  They are seriously quite large and very muscular.  I may not have a lot of fat on them but if thigh gap was a thing in my teenage days, I hate to think of what my body image could have turned into.

Ok, I can hear you “This website isn’t about fashion and media”. No, it is definitely not. But it is about a promoting healthy women and it’s about encouraging women to be more active. If you’re definition of beauty falls within the spectrum of accepting thigh gap as a beauty, well, we have a slight problem. Many athletic women have strong thighs (and glutes and calves!) but thigh gap?  It’s just not a look you tend to see on many athletic females.  And if a girl is looking at a magazine and deems that thigh gap is a measure of attractiveness,  she just might quit snowboarding fearing her legs will grow larger. Forget that a strong lower body tightens and boosts everything up and can give you a really great butt…the look is about creating and maintaing a gap between your thighs.

Jenn Sinkler has a blog post (it’s a bit older, from 2013) and is promoting #closethethighgap.  Her post further explains some physiological reasons as to why thigh gap is impossible for many of us; such as pelvic structure and tendon lengths.  Her post isn’t too long and is a nice read:

It’s time to celebrate those strong, muscular legs!  It’s not about how big of a gap there is, it’s about what they can do!  Gap or no gap:  how cool is it when we accomplish an incredible feat?  These thighs run us up trails!  They propel us up the mountain!  They chase after our kids!  Who’s got wicked thighs out there?!

What are you most proud of what your thighs have accomplished?

My thighs:  they got me across Canada!

My thighs: they got me across Canada!

There are 2 comments

  1. zen traveller

    My thighs got me up Mount Elgon in Uganda, all 4300+ meters! Body talk is important. To look at me, I’m heavier than I’ve ever been but I’m also more active and have more endurance than ever. Skinny isn’t always healthy.


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