The Thigh Gap: An Awful Trend Fueling Teen Eating Disorders


Thigh Gap 2014.07.30The Thigh Gap: What is it? A thigh gap is a clear space or gap between the thighs. The thighs are no longer touching each other when the feet and knees are together.

Origin of the phenomenon: the 2012 Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

For many teens, the thigh gap symbolizes the ideal body. Some teenage girls go as far as thinking that the bigger the gap, the more beautiful the girl. Let’s be clear: this is completely unnatural for the majority of women.

This trend definitely won’t help teenagers to feel better about their bodies: 80% of girls dislike their body by the time they are 17!


Interestingly enough, the girls are not motivated by being more attractive to boys (who apparently don’t notice). Instead it’s a girls’ thing that enhances social status and supposedly brings popularity.

Vonda Wright, a Pittsburgh-based orthopedic surgeon and fitness expert, says the spacing between a person’s legs is based mostly on genetics. And even extraordinarily thin people may not have a body type that can achieve such a gap. You have to be both skinny and wide-hipped, she says.

Nevertheless, a large number of teenagers are struggling to reach this goal.


Two choices:

  1. Surgery
  2. Starvation
    Starving yourself is very dangerous and increases the likelihood of developing an eating disorder. One of the worst being anorexia.

Unfortunately, eating disorders are not rare among teenagers. These disorders are more common among teen girls, but the belief that boys are spared this suffering is false. (An estimated 10-15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.)

Parents, please, don’t think your teen(s) will never succumb to these pressures and never become anorexic. Some statistics: Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents. 86% of people with eating disorders report onset of an eating disorder by age 20.

It’s important to know the warning signs. There’s no need to freak out, but it’s better, as a parent or educator, to be aware.

Some signs that must raise a red flag:

  1. Eliminating specific food groups from meals.
  2. Doing strange things to food, such as cutting it into smaller pieces.
  3. Coming up with excuses as to why they can’t eat, such as a stomach ache or throat pain.
  4. Leaving during meals to visit the bathroom; most likely to regurgitate food.
  5. Wearing bigger, baggier clothing to cover up any weight loss.
  6. Using a scale multiple times a day.
  7. Developing a fear of gaining weight, beginning an intense exercise program, or binge eating.

If your teen begins to show any of these signs, your job as a parent or educator is to seek professional help for your kid and yourself.

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4 Comments on “The Thigh Gap: An Awful Trend Fueling Teen Eating Disorders”

  1. Kara B. Wilson Says:

    Reblogged this on Kara's Comments and commented:
    While this article is directed at parents/teachers, I definitely feel this sad teen trend needs to be addressed and discussed amongst adolescents. How have image issues come to this?


    • valeriegrison Says:

      Thank you Kara, for you astute observations. We are in the process of founding a new non-profit organization to address this exact issue. The main purpose of Give Us the Floor is Empowering a peer network of teens: “Youth have the power to make a real difference in the lives of people around them, When young people have troubles, frustrations, concerns, worries or life event that affect them, they often turn to peers rather than adults for help.”
      ~ Barbara V. Varenhorst, PhD


      • Kara B. Wilson Says:

        That’s really great to hear. I’d love to be involved with something like that. As a 6th-12th grade teacher (who now teaches online), I often found that the most powerful moments in my classroom were during student-centered discussions. I assigned every student a question to respond to and lead the discussion on, and I couldn’t say a single word the entire time. I learned so much from them and tried to show them how powerful their voices are if they simply take the time to listen to different perspectives, educate themselves on issues, and speak up in a constructive manner. Thanks so much for the work you’re doing. It is so needed.

  2. valeriegrison Says:

    Thank you so much for your support. I’d be honored to talk to you privately about your desire to be involved. My email: Looking forward to it!


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