Saturday, April 21, 2018
Opinion

Dear daughter: Ignore this thigh gap baloney

I would love for "thigh gap" to meet a swift and uneventful demise, killed off by actual topics worthy of actual attention.

But that's not happening. A new short film called The Magic Gap, launched as part of nowness.com's DefineBeauty series, is the latest entry in a long line of commentary, social media memes and "thinspiration" posts coveting, celebrating, debating the space between a female's thighs when she stands with her feet together.

"So many young girls are reblogging images of models — models like the ones in the video — with captions like, 'I'm so disgusting, my thighs are so fat they just keep rubbing together and touching,'" Fashionista.com's Tyler McCall told Britain's Daily Mail in response to The Magic Gap video.

My daughter is 8. She has not yet turned a scornful eye toward her own thighs, but I don't doubt that day will soon arrive. She already meticulously measures her body against the other girls in her weekly gymnastics class, where leotards are the great equalizer.

I'm considering a pre-emptive strike. I hate to introduce a new body obsession, but I hate more the idea of someone else introducing (and legitimizing) it in her impressionable young mind before I get out ahead of it.

So I wrote her a note. It's far from the final word, but it will, hopefully, get us talking.

Hi, sweetie.

Hillary Clinton is on the cover of People magazine talking about a whole bunch of things: her new memoir, her experience as secretary of state, her possible 2016 presidential run, her marriage, her favorite TV shows.

You know what she's not talking about? Her thighs.

Not because she's never given them any thought. She no doubt has (especially when her detractors sold campaign buttons criticizing them).

She's human and she's female and it's next to impossible to be those things in this culture without some nagging body image issues. If you don't pin them on yourself, someone will pin them on for you.

If grown-ups tell you they're above it, they're lying. Rihanna just wore a transparent gown to an awards show and the Internet lost its collective mind. Some people called her a tramp (and worse). Some people called her a feminist icon.

We're obsessed with female bodies.

Here's the thing: You don't have to be obsessed with yours. You can give it what it needs (healthy food, lots of fun exercise, respect) and you can live in quiet awe of what it allows you to do (cartwheels!) and then you can put it at the very bottom of your list of things to spend your thoughts on.

Sometimes that's hard. Some people will try to convince you that a space between your thighs will make you happy or worthy or desirable or complete. It won't.

A thigh gap won't make you laugh or make you think or teach you Spanish or get you into college. It won't introduce you to your life-long friends or keep you from getting sick or console you on a lousy day or send a delicious chill up your spine.

It won't matter. It will never, ever, matter.

People will tell you otherwise. Tune them out. They are small and sad and also, in the grand scheme of your life, won't matter.

I hope you see a female president one of these days. I hope you hear people talk more about her anti-poverty initiatives and her equal rights progress and her ability to combat climate change than about her thighs.

And I hope when you do hear the inevitable stuff about her body — or your body — you take it for what it is: an invitation to move on to something — and someone — that matters.

Love, Mom

— Chicago Tribune

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