CP Editorial: Love your body and forget the ‘gap’

Honestly, I don’t give a gap anymore.

It’s time to talk straight. Thighs touching have always been a touchy subject, at least for as long as I can remember.

In middle school girls in my classes would hold their legs above the desk chair, toes on point, leaning the backs of their feet against chair legs, to keep their thighs from “spreading out” and looking larger against the plastic chair. You’d leave class with sore legs, blistered toes and not that much knowledge from the teacher’s lecture.

Jean shopping in junior high was a tear-filled occasion. My friend Kelly nicknamed her thighs Tex and As, because she claims she has “Texas sized thighs.” In high school it just got worse, people all around me, people I love, began developing eating disorders, getting plastic surgery and going on cleansing lemon and pepper drink diets.

I thought by the time I got to college, where we call ourselves women instead of girls, we’d outgrow this childish obsession for stick-skinny legs and embrace our bodies.

I was shocked to find that I couldn’t be more wrong. In college, where no one has to answer to parents, eating disorders and psycho-diets aren’t hidden. They’re glamorized. And with social media’s new addition to the frenzy — the thigh gap — I am worn out.

The thigh gap is a space between a woman’s thighs when she is standing straight, and is what thousands of girls are striving to have, no matter what the cost.  Honestly, I’m tired. I can’t hear another round of the proverbial chant, “feet together, thighs apart.” I can’t see another photo of a pale corpse wearing lace with the caption, “Which do you want more? Cake or a thigh gap?”

Finally, what put me over the edge was the Shurz elevator. I usually don’t talk much on my rides up to the eighth floor, but the girl opposite me was clearly upset. Mascara lines ran down her face and her body was shaking violently against the shiny wall. When I asked her what was wrong, she responded with possibly the most grotesque thing I have heard all semester. “My boyfriend says he wishes I had a thigh gap. That I’d be hotter with a thigh gap.”

And that’s when I snapped.

It’s time for a change, women. Listen up. Unnatural thigh gaps are most often achieved through eating disorders like Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. On pro-gap blogs they are lovingly referred to as “Ana & Mia.” According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 25 percent of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique.    ANAD also cites that 20 percent of people suffering from anorexia will die prematurely from complications related to the disease, including suicide and heart problems. And sickly enough, these Tumblr and Twitter accounts promoting “thinspiration” are just encouraging those statistics to rise. If you search the tag “thigh gap” on Tumblr, a note appears on the screen stating, “If you or someone you know is dealing with an eating disorder, self harm issues or suicidal thoughts, please visit our Counseling & Prevention Resources page for a list of services that may be able to help.”

Clearly we are aware of the situation. But are we doing anything about it? The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty cites 72 percent of girls feel “tremendous pressure to be beautiful.” Dove proposes an idea, “Imagine a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety.”

Just take that in for a second. A world where we can love our bodies. Can such a place exist? Initiatives like Dove are a step in the right direction. Beauty companies everywhere need to know the influence they have on teenagers and take their job seriously. Parents and other adults who are role models for future generations need to speak more positively about their bodies to set an example. We weren’t born knowing the names of fifteen different diets.

Ultimately, society is never going to stop throwing absurdities at us. Do you remember the “Bump-it” and it’s lofty hair goals? Have you seen Victoria’s not-so-secret enhancements lately? Thigh gaps, too, have added themselves to a long list. I guess we have to just grow an armor of self-confidence against it ladies. Embrace your body, love your body and be a force for acceptance. Then maybe we’ll bridge the gap.

 

Maria Kalaitzandonakes

About the Author Maria

I’m a CoMo native with a mile-long last name. I’m a sucker for wool socks, classic Coca Cola and afternoon naps. If I had a pet, I’d dub it Pigwidgeon, or maybe Alastor. I’ve stood right in between Asia and Europe, eaten my weight in lamb meat and walked the Great Wall. I’m fluent in Greek and a little wobbly in Spanish. I’ve broken my arm and lost five pairs of glasses. And I say both with an L, as in boLth, like a true Missourian. Before I became a tiger, I was a bruin, at Columbia’s very own Rock Bridge High School. There I got my start in agriculture and journalism. I ran the student newspaper and magazine, learning that I had a love for storytelling. CAFNR is where I call home right now, as an Agricultural Economics and Science and Agricultural Journalism double-major student. Someday I may use this degree for a career in agricultural public policy or foreign agricultural services. But for now, I’m just a freshman with some pretty blurry pipe dreams.