Hey, in case you don’t know what thigh gap is, your tweenage daughters are tweeting about it now, so heads up. Apparently, young women in America (and throughout other parts of the world) have become very concerned with how much space is created between their thighs when they stand with feet touching side-by-side. In their minds, there is an inverse relationship between fat and thigh gap: the more thigh gap, the less fat.
To that I say, pleeeease, tweens, thigh gap craze is nothing new! It’s been around for at least ten years since my seventh grade year in school when I realized what it was and wanted it. You didn’t create anything new!
All jokes aside, because this is really very far from a joke, I have always, always — since that fateful seventh grade day — wanted thigh gap and I have never, never been able to get it. My legs will always be thick. It doesn’t matter how many dozens of miles I run a week, or how many thousands of squats I do — I’m never getting thigh gap. Even at my skinniest, I never could manage a smidge of space between those two monster legs, or “thunder thighs” as I called them in sixth grade, trying desperately to laugh off a comment by a classmate (a comment that stung so much I have never been able to forget it) that my “legs jiggled so much” when I ran.
I guess that is one of the earliest memories I have of hating my body, and I’ve never been able to outgrow that memory. Parents, watch out. Some people carry self-loathing past their teenage years, past undergraduate and graduate degrees, past identification as a feminist. Some people have wounds like these that will never go away. For me, it’s gotten better, but I still struggle with body image issues. I’ve still got two eyes and a heart, haven’t I, and there are still internet haters, aren’t there?
I will never be able to achieve thigh gap, and I have spent too many years of a life already too short chasing a pipedream that has made me very small-minded and self-centered indeed. I have failed to look out because I have been so successful at spending time and money and energy and brain-space on my body. And that is a sad thing indeed, because already at 25, my metabolism is slowing down, and I have had to face up to the fact that this is as good as it gets, and if this is the peak, then I don’t have much to show for myself.
Parents, be vigilant about raising your children to understand their self-worth beyond physical appearance. Because one day we all will get old, and we will get ugly; and one day all of our sets of thighs will have a gap, but only because death will have eaten away all but our bones. And then none of this will matter. All that will remain will be the impressions we have left on the living of hearts cultivated by grace and wisdom. Lay not up for yourselves treasures on Earth, and be careful what you put your stock in.
Previously from Laura Creel:
♦ Blessed are the Rich: “Preachers of L.A.”
♦ The Problem With Aaron Hernandez’s Disappearing Act
♦ President George H.W. Bush Shaves Head, Makes Us All Tear Up
♦ A Summer of Surveillance and Banquet of Consequences
♦ Worse Than the Worst: Flesh-Eating Maggots