DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: I’m happy to observe that today’s teens seem to see the ideal female form as more curvy and less prepubescent than in my youth. (Thank you, Beyoncé.) Then I learned of the “thigh gap,” the latest baffling body-image obsession. Is a thigh gap really something for which young women strive, and do young men really find it attractive? — J.T., Redding
Katherine, 17, Redding: I’ve never met a girl satisfied with her body. Until recently, my whole life was driven by self-criticism and media influence. Sure, stars like Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian promote their bootylicious bodies, but the Victoria’s Secret model still rules, even if subconsciously. The thigh gap trend was created to make girls feel good about being skinny and girls started posting theirs or celebrity thigh gaps on social media. Girls should strive to be healthy, not skinny.
Lyric, 16, Santa Rosa: The thigh gap has become huge in social media to show how skinny you are. I admit, I wanted one, too, but I wasn’t willing to starve myself to try and get one like some girls. I researched the thigh gap and for most humans, it’s simply impossible. It has nothing to do with thinness, it’s about bone structure. From then on, I accepted that it’s equally beautiful to not have one.
Brie, 23, San Francisco: I wear size “0” but do not have a thigh gap. While some women naturally have one, most don’t. Even very fit women don’t. Being in shape is what matters, not if your thighs touch or not.
Carmela, 16, Davis: Most guys I know do think it’s attractive, but they also don’t really care. If my friends or I want to be thinner, we think about our waistlines, not our thigh gaps.
Bella, 17, Santa Rosa: Both curvy and skinny shaming are rampant, and women are constantly bombarded with conflicting messages about their looks. I’ve discussed thigh gaps with my male friends. Some love them, some hate them, and some are as confused as women about them. A reason for its popularity might be because of where it draws the eye. This topic affects me deeply, because a friend’s thigh gap became a reason to call her a slut and whore. She was tormented for months and I was the only friend who stood beside her. Finally, I spoke to the bullies, her parents got involved, and the school put a stop to it.
Lyra, 17, Sonoma: Slogans promoting curviness such as “real women have curves” don’t mean it’s accepted as the ideal form. Almost all models, celebrities and “desirable” women are thin. The real problem is that no matter WHERE a woman falls on the spectrum, she’s not enough. If you’re thin, you need a bigger ass, if you’re not thin, you should be, and lacking a smallish waist, well, you’re just fat and lazy. Even when we know better, the media’s nonstop criticism is impactful.
Ryann, 17, Tustin: The thigh gap has become the symbol of a thin physique. Young girls insecure about their changing bodies are the most vulnerable. Many attempt unhealthy means of losing weight to attain it. I wish girls would worry about being healthy not skinny.
Dear J.T.: The thigh gap trend is right up there with foot binding in the stupidity department and deserves to be adducted into oblivion. The thigh gap IS strictly hereditary. If you’re fit and don’t have one, only starvation will create one. To males and females alike: We must grow out of these misogynistic practices. Please reject harmful stupidity and the media venues that promote it, and encourage others to do the same. — Lauren