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It seems that many teen girls have become obsessed with the “thigh gap.” If you haven’t heard of this trend, it’s exactly as it sounds. Girls are doing whatever it takes to become thin enough to have a gap between their thighs when they stand. Of course this is dangerous because very few people are able to achieve this look naturally, and so girls are going to unnatural and unhealthy lengths to get it done. Memes are cropping up all over “thinspiration” pages where girls go to strengthen their resolve toward being thin at any cost -- often developing disordered eating. Parents, educators, eating disorder specialists and other adults in charge are justifiably concerned about this. People are wringing their hands about how wrong the teens are and how we’re going to have to get them to stop.
Parents are told that it’s important that their teen girls have a good body image, and that’s true. But let’s be realistic here, teen girls did not wake up one day and say “hey, let’s make thigh gap a thing!” This started in magazines, fashion shows, movies, television, and everywhere else that girls get their ideas about beauty. The problem isn’t teen girls, the problem is the beauty ideal that they are spoon-fed from birth. It starts with onesies that say “Does this diaper make my bottom look fat,” and it just gets worse after that as Teen Vogue tells them to be an A+ fashion genius and America’s Next Top Model tells them that you can never be too thin.
Blaming teen girls is the fashion, beauty, and dieting industries' dangerous game of “hey, look over there!” while they continue their incredibly profitable game of getting girls and women to spend much of their time, energy, and money chasing an impossible ideal. Our girls cannot afford for us to be fooled by this. What we need to tell girls, and ourselves while we’re at it, is that the world is seriously messed up but they are fine. Or, more powerfully, we can show them by refusing to buy into these things ourselves. If you really want to change the world for girls, don’t give them their hundredth lecture about positive body image, tell them about how to deal with chub rub (a little body glide, deodorant, or baby powder can do the trick.) Then show them. Unabashedly love your body out loud -- gapless thighs and all, and watch the world start to change for the better.