Thigh gap – a (bikini) bridge too far?
As a teenager growing up in the 1980’s I felt pressure to look a certain way. In those days that look was somewhat different to now (think permed hair, big shoulder pads and bat wing sleeves). The thin ideal was the in thing, although to a much lesser extent than now.
What I didn’t have to contend with was the notion of thigh gaps or bikini bridges. As a woman now in her 40’s, these concepts have (thankfully) passed me by. I’ve worked hard throughout my adult life to come to terms with my body and to love and accept what I’ve got. The thigh gap or bikini bridge is something that I have no desire to aspire to. Firstly, because neither is healthy or possible for my body shape, and secondly because I don’t believe in conforming to unrealistic ideals any more!
Thigh gaps and bikini bridges are part of what has become known as thinspiration. The thigh gap occurs when a woman’s legs are so slender that they do not meet at the thigh, creating the desired gap. The bikini bridge is where a woman is so slim that she can suspend her bikini bottoms from her protruding hip bones when she lies down.
It seems the average teenage girl growing up in the modern western world has a lot to live up to when it comes to beauty ideals. Thigh gap and bikini bridge are just two of the many beauty traits that are banded around by various forms of media as being desirable. These have become the symbols of the ‘ideal body shape’.
These symbols, although having the potential to impact all women in a damaging way, seem to have the biggest effect on teenage girls. Girls are growing up in a society where their self worth has become reliant on their size and shape. They haven’t yet come to understand their inherent value as a human being.
Media, particularly beauty advertising minimises women to their body parts, de-constructing their bodies and focussing in on specific parts. This leads women to believe they have no worth other than in their appearance, and that their looks are under constant scrutiny. Women and girls are dieting, using beauty products and having surgery in a never ending effort to look like the unattainable images they see.
If you’re a woman or a teenage girl who aspires to the thigh gap or the bikini bridge, you are potentially damaging not only your physical but your mental health. Here are my tips on how to break away from these ideals:
Challenge the images you see of thigh gap and bikini bridge
The majority of the images that we see across the media are Photo shopped or altered in some way. They aren’t real. Some fashion retailers are creating thigh gaps in pictures of their clothing that don’t exist. Don’t aspire to be like images that aren’t real.
Question the purpose behind these ideals
Where do you think the ideals come from? Who benefits from you wanting to have a thigh gap or a bikini bridge? The diet industry is expected to be worth a staggering $ 600 billion globally in 2014. It profits from women feeling bad about their bodies and buying their products.
What is a healthy body for you?
For most of us, a thigh gap or bikini bridge isn’t physically possible because our body just isn’t naturally that shape. To achieve the gap or bridge would require extreme dieting and exercise that are unhealthy for most bodies. Everyone’s’ body is different. The most important thing when it comes to your body is its health. Make the health of your body your goal, not its appearance.
You are so much more than body parts
Focussing on having a gap or a bridge is minimising yourself to your body when you are so much more. Your self worth is not defined by how you look. As humans we all have inherent worth, regardless of our size or shape. Value yourself for what is inside of you. What are your achievements, what are you good at, what are the personality traits that people love you for?