perfection, thigh gaps, and new ideals.

I’ve become slightly concerned lately in my brief browsing of some internet sites, mainly Pinterest (because, let’s be honest, I don’t browse many more sites than that regularly). I go through the various categories, seeing what’s new and what’s worth pinning to go back to later.

The health and fitness section is great for recipe ideas, quick workouts, and a burst of motivation.

It also is a great place for misguided, unhealthy advice.

I’m disturbed by the fact that “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” is an expression that is being regularly used and that thigh gaps are trending all over the internet.

If you haven’t heard of it before or are not fully aware of what the thigh gap is, it is exactly how it sounds: the gap between your thighs that you might get when you reach a certain weight or fitness level. Notice that I said might.

The problem with this whole thing is that pro-ana blogs (pro-anorexia) are heralding the thigh gap as an ultimate goal. You are not skinny until there is daylight between your thighs. You are not perfect until your thighs don’t touch. If you never get there, you are never going to be good enough. That is essentially what is happening.

What is also happening is that there are now tumblr posts, Twitter trends, Pinterest links, and various other places on the internet that you can also find the overwhelming desire for a thigh gap, outside of pro-ana blogs and websites. Essentially, an unhealthy goal that is part of an unhealthy disease is becoming mainstream.

Mainstream to the point where “mind that gap” or “dat gap” are slang expressions that are generally being used as compliments towards a woman, as in, “Dat gap is so sexy.”

We all know that for a very long time there have been ideals set for both men and women that are at a level that many people cannot get to. It’s not that everyone can’t be healthy, can’t work out, can’t be lean and fit, but not everyone will look the same when they do it. Not every man will get that chiseled six-pack, not every woman will have a thigh gap.

It’s a physiological difference between people that prevents these things and this is what we need to start teaching our children, our friends, our coworkers.

It’s okay to teach health, to teach fitness, to teach general well-being. It’s more than okay, actually. What’s not okay is to teach that these images of so-called perfection are what everyone should be aiming for. What’s not okay is that even if we are teaching self esteem, believing in yourself, and being happy with whoever you are, this could all become dashed when that same person logs on to the internet and sees the exact opposite there.

We can’t control the internet. We can’t control what everyone is posting, tweeting, taking pictures of, and preaching. What we can control is the reaction to it. What we can control is how much support is given to these things. What we need to do is understand that when something that started out of pro-ana blogs has become mainstream and, eventually, become a compliment, that we need to stop. We need to stop, regroup, and take another hard look at what we’ve allowed to become a goal for the general public.

Because, honestly, some of the fittest people I know still have thighs that touch.

And some of the skinniest people I know wish their thighs were larger.

I want to just file “thigh gap”, “slut shaming”, and “legitimate rape” under the same category: terrible terms that never should have been allowed to see the light of day.

Let’s fix this.

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