About the Author: Emily Champoux is a sophomore nutrition student at the UMN-Twin Cities
In today’s society, women are constantly bombarded by the ideals that to be confident you must be beautiful, and to be beautiful you must be thin. Monthly issues for magazines like Women’s Health, Allure, People, and many more always have cover stories that push weight loss or getting thin. Whether it is how Jessica Simpson lost the weight the media has shamed her for gaining over the last year, or the top 10 tips and tricks to shedding the pounds that are lingering after the holidays, the media never disappoints our society’s obsession with size and weight. The relentless covers and advertisements push these “think thin” ideals on us whether or not we truly want them and unfortunately, they take a toll on many of us. I speak for myself and probably many other young women when I say this.
Just today I looked in the mirror and came face to face with the “thin ideal”. Regardless of how others may view me, I am an average woman and like many other average women, I have days where I look in the mirror and only see things I don’t like about myself. Today, it was my thighs. For someone else it may have been their stomach, or skin, or even their arms, but today’s insecurity brought with it the reinforcement of the dreaded “thigh gap” ideal.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with this term, thigh gap refers to the “space between the inner thighs when standing upright with knees touching”. The Wikipedia page, titled “thigh gap” says it all, this definition included as the introductory line for the page. The fact that an entire page is devoted to this twisted ideal of beauty is honestly quite sickening. Now, as a disclaimer, some individuals may have a natural thigh gap that even at an average, healthy weight, still exists. Those individuals are not the concern that comes with this ideal, nor are they the targets of this expose. The thigh gap however, is frequently featured as a defining feature of models in many of today’s advertisements. In addition to protruding rib cages, emaciated arms, and prominent collarbones, the thigh gap is all too often the defining characteristic of media beauty.
Today’s society holds not only outer beauty but thinness to a high standard. After reading a refreshing and honest personal account from the Huffington Post by Jenni Schaefer about how the thigh gap drove her eating disorder, my moment of insecurity today was replaced by a moment of empowerment. Sure, my thighs touch and I don’t have a 6-pack or a perfect “bubble butt”. But I am an almost 20 year old woman that loves being active, has a killer smile, and a strong body that allows me to live my life to the fullest. Many of us get caught up in the “I hate this about my body” mentality, and fail to see how incredible our own bodies truly are. After having a stress fracture in my left leg this summer, I was quickly reminded how much I take my body for granted. I can not only walk, but I can go for a run, or hike a mountain, or even go rock climbing. My body is amazing, and so is yours. Instead of focusing on something miniscule like say, a thigh gap, I feel we should all take the time to focus on the things we love about our body and what our bodies allow us to do every single day (no matter how small it may be). Strive to embrace the amazing strength and support your body gives you everyday. Olympic athletes like Misty May Treanor or Shawn Johnson are perfect
representations of strong women, both physically and mentally. They work hard day in and day out and do they have a thigh gap to show it? Not a chance. Yet, these women, these olympic athletes, are what embody strong, successful, and beautiful women. And so do you.
Even though today’s society may push ideals of beauty that are not realistic or healthy, it is important to remember what makes each woman beautiful. It’s not a small space between your two thighs that defines you. It’s your contagious laugh, bubbly demeanor, ability to throw a spiraling football, or your daily routine of dancing in your underwear to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”, that makes you a beautiful and strong woman.
For those interested in the article mentioned in this post, follow this link to the Huffington Post to read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenni-schaefer/how-i-fought-to-get-rid-of-my-thigh-gap_b_4832848.html