the truth about this dangerous beauty ideal


  • A thigh gap occurs when a person’s inner thighs are not touching each other when they are standing with their feet together.
  • For some people, there is no way to get a thigh gap as it largely depends on the bone structure.
  • The spaces between the thighs are a dangerous beauty ideal that can cause excessive exercise, extreme dieting, and anxiety.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference Library for more tips.

You don’t have to spend a lot of time on the internet to know that it is riddled with unrealistic beauty standards. One trend in particular – the thigh gap – continues to be popular on social media, garnering more 102,000 messages on Instagram alone. And, while the thigh gap may be idolized in popular culture, you shouldn’t be trying to get one.

What is a thigh gap?

The “thigh gap” is the space between the thighs when you stand with your feet together. Essentially, it just means that someone’s inner thighs aren’t touching or rubbing against each other.

“[The thigh gap] is not a health standard, but an aesthetic standard that is often recommended for women. However, it is an unrealistic beauty ideal for many, ”says Janet A. Lydecker, PhD, psychologist at Yale School of Medicine which specializes in research on obesity, weight and diet.

The term began to appear on the Internet in 2010, but did not become commonplace until 2013. During this period, photos of women with splayed thighs – usually models – were shared on social media and blogs. Coined “inspiration“, the photos were meant to motivate viewers to achieve leaner bodies.

Keep in mind that photos illustrating beauty standards, such as the gap between the thighs, are often strategically posed or digitally altered and rarely reflect what that person actually looks like.

Can you get a thigh gap?

A person’s ability to have a thigh gap largely depends on their genetic predisposition and bone structure. This means that even naturally thin people won’t necessarily have a thigh gap, or someone who is more bent may have a thigh gap.

“A thigh gap is more affected by your bone structure, especially the width of your hips and the position of your hips in your pelvis. It is also affected by genetics, particularly where your body stores fat. So, for the most part, there isn’t much you can do to get a thigh gap, and you shouldn’t try either, ”says Elizabeth C. Gardner, MD, FAAOS, orthopedic surgeon at Yale Medicine and assistant professor of orthopedics at the Yale School of Medicine.

While some people swear that you can achieve a thigh gap through methods or tricks, like targeted fat loss, inner thigh exercises, or excessive dieting, it won’t work for everyone. And over time, they can be dangerous because extreme calorie restriction can lead to bone loss and cardiovascular problems.

Plus, strengthening the inner thigh muscles with “thigh spreading exercises” won’t increase the space between your thighs, Gardner explains. It’s because exercise specific parts of the body does not result in fat loss in targeted areas.

The dangers of beauty ideals

Making drastic lifestyle changes, such as excessive dieting or excessive exercise, to achieve a particular beauty ideal benefits both your physical and mental health. at risk.

“Unfortunately, there is a strong association between… looking for a gap between the thighs and eating disorders,” says Gardner.

In fact, a Study 2019 among college students aged 18 to 25 found that exposure to unrealistic beauty ideals can cause body dissatisfaction. Body dissatisfaction is associate with unhealthy weight control behaviors, low self-esteem, and symptoms of eating disorders.

In addition, “people who engage in body check, like the careful examination of a gap between the thighs, can lead to eating disorders as well as anxiety disorders, ”explains Lydecker. These conditions put people at an increased risk of infertility, hair loss, and one persistent feeling of dread.

Insider takeaways

A thigh gap, which means the inside of your thighs aren’t touching, is an unrealistic beauty standard because not everyone is genetically prone to having a thigh gap.

Attempting to achieve a gap between the thighs can lead to overeating and / or over exercising, which can adversely affect physical and mental health and can even lead to an eating disorder.

Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and staying physically active is much healthier for your physical and mental health instead of pursuing unrealistic beauty ideals.


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