Scrolling down the Pinterest page, I see countless photos of bikini clad girls with emaciated bodies. Mirror selfies tagged as ‘thinspiration’ showcase razor-sharp hipbones, protruding ribs, and skeletal thighs set several inches apart. The blogger’s comments? “Thigh gap and flat stomach…this is what I want,” and, “I will look like this by summer.”
While the Internet has seen many fads that aim to set the standard of beauty for girls and women, the “thigh gap” trend is one of the most destructive and disturbing to date. The goal is to have legs so thin that your thighs don’t touch, even when standing with your feet together.
In reality, this goal is nearly impossible to achieve without a certain body type. Unless a girl has naturally slender legs and wide-set hips, she would have to go to far and often dangerous lengths for a space between her thighs.
It has come to the point where if you type in “thigh gap” on Pinterest, the top of the screen reads “Eating disorders are not lifestyle choices, they are mental disorders that if left untreated can cause serious health problems or could even be life-threatening,” followed by the number for the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline.
Yet, bloggers from all over the world continue to use social media sites like Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram to post workout tips, phrases that promote eating less, and photos of girls with the coveted thigh gap as inspiration for their weight loss goals. Pictures of models, celebrities, and — wait for it — Holocaust victims are among the images featured on the site for “motivational purposes.”
Although the thigh gap trend is horrifying and tragic in the eyes of any human being, as a Jewish teenager I feel that it strikes an even deeper chord. Throughout my life, I have been taught that everyone is created in God’s image. While this can be interpreted in an infinite number of ways, at its core it means that we should embrace people’s differences and accept that we are all equally beautiful in our own right. This includes body shape, skin color, special needs and everything in between.
I remember reading a Mishnah passage in my ninth grade Jewish Studies class: “A person mints many coins from the same mold and they all resemble one another. But [God] forms each person in the image of Adam and not one of them resembles his fellow” (Sanhedrin 4:5).
It pains me to know that so many girls are striving to alter their bodies’ natural forms to resemble the runway models on the Pinterest page. So many girls are giving in to the pressure to eat less so the space between their thighs will be as wide as the photo reposted on the Tumblr blog tells them it needs to be. And so many are sitting back and watching as teenagers all over the world damage their physical and emotional health trying to match the coins minted from the Instagram mold.
One thing that can’t be stressed enough is that beauty is not something that can be defined — not by Tumblr, not by magazines, and not by the girl who complains about needing to lose five pounds. Many bloggers are taking this idea to heart and creating anti-thigh gap pages to combat negative body image. Blogs like The Beauty of Curve are becoming increasingly popular, and with them the phrase, “No Thigh Gap, No Problem.” The pages feature images of real, healthy women and celebrities with a wide range of body types, supporting the idea that there is beauty in diversity — beauty that God would want us to recognize.
Curvy, thin, tall, short or something in between, every body type is a reflection of God’s beauty and perfection — whatever your interpretation of that may be. There is one thing, however, that I think we can all agree on: up in heaven or wherever She may be, God is probably not trying for a thigh gap.