Some people have blue eyes, and some people have green eyes. Some people have innie belly buttons, and some people have outie belly buttons. Some people have narrow hips and legs that touch, and some people have wider hips with thighs that don’t touch. All these particular body parts are affected by the arbitrary genetic hand you’re dealt at birth, yet young girls have chosen to obsess over whether they have a “thigh gap.”
As the Alligator reported yesterday, the pervasive thigh-gap idea has been perpetuated by users on sites like Tumblr and Pinterest who glorify having upper thighs that don’t touch. Having a thigh gap, as health professionals have reported, is not indicative of good health.
Vonda Wright, a Pittsburgh-based orthopedic surgeon and fitness expert, talked to Jezebel about the logistics of having a thigh gap and the impracticality of striving for one. She said a person would have to be both skinny and wide-hipped in order to have one.
“Besides, Wright said,” according to Jezebel, “it isn’t a goal worth chasing. Most fit people won’t have a thigh gap because their thighs are muscular enough that they touch,” she said.
“‘Skinny does not mean fit or muscular,’ said Wright, who works with Division I athletes. ‘I cannot think of one athlete I deal with’ who has a thigh gap.”
Women just can’t cut a break, it seems. If it’s not a thigh gap, it’s a flat stomach or prominent collar bones or back dimples or avoiding “cankles” or whatever ridiculous beauty trend is en vogue.
In her memoir “Bossypants,” our Lord and savior Tina Fey said, “Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall a**, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll t*ts.
“The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian,” Fey wrote, “who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”
On the flip side, since the thigh-gap debate has received as much attention as the classic vodka-eyeballing of 2010, people have felt compelled to weigh in on the subject a little too harshly, labeling girls with thigh gaps as “bowlegged” and “shaped like a human nutcracker.”
Unfortunately, unrealistic beauty ideals aren’t going anywhere. No matter how many exposés are written, no matter how many documentaries are filmed, and no matter how many op-eds are written, women will be faced with ridiculous and arbitrary standards of beauty.
The only line of defense, then, is to quit worrying about the stuff you can’t control. Whether your thighs part at the top or kiss gently, remember that your worth as a human being isn’t based upon your looks.
A version of this editorial ran on page 6 on 10/10/2013 under the headline "You can’t control everything — Like thigh gaps"