The messages sent to women today regarding body image are quite conflicting. On the one hand, we have the body positivity movement, which is intended to help women love and accept their bodies, just the way they are. But on the other hand, unrealistic beauty standards are still constantly thrown at us. Take for instance, 2017’s body ideal – it’s now more unattainable than ever.
All you have to do is go on Instagram, to see the number of celebrities, influencers, and bloggers sporting Kim Kardashian-esque figures. Think teeny tiny waist, sculpted abs, D-cup breasts – that defy gravity of course – big butts – oh and my personal favorite – thigh gaps. No trainer or diet in the world can realistically give any woman all these results. This is where big bucks and plastic surgery comes into play.
The thigh gap trend is a dangerous one, mainly because it’s not one every woman can actually achieve.
Take my body for instance. I have a slim, pear-shaped figure, meaning I’m curvier from the hips down. It doesn’t matter how skinny I get, I always have a booty, hips, and thick thighs. My thighs always touch no matter what. It would be impossible for me to ever have a thigh gap naturally and that’s just facts.
Of course there are those women who you see with thick thighs and thigh gaps and wonder – how?! Well, According to reports, women are seeking liposuction or even FDA-approved CoolSculpting, a non-surgical procedure that helps to reduce the fat on inner and outer thighs by 20 to 25 percent in just three months, to get those results.
Growing up in a Dominican household, I was always praised for my thick thighs, bubble butt, and hips especially because I’ve always been skinny. I’ve had my body insecurities, especially when I was younger and wanted to be thicker, but for the most part I’ve liked my body and as an adult I can honestly say – I love and embrace it most days.
My thighs were never an issue for me. I loved the way they looked in skirts, shorts, and dresses. But after seeing so many women on my IG feed – including Queen Bey – with that little window between their legs – the whole thigh gap trend really started to get to me.
This summer I looked at myself in the mirror a few times after putting on my bikini and wondered if my body would look better if I had a subtle gap in between my thighs. I legit couldn’t stop thinking about it. Finally curvy bodies are being loved and embraced in popular culture but not “naturally” curvy bodies. More like, bodies that have been modified to resemble Jessica Rabbit.
“It’s great that we are seeing [popular culture] embrace ‘thicker bodies.’ It’s a tiny step in the right direction,” says body positive coach, health expert, and founder of Love Your Curvas, Jaquelin Rodriguez. “On one hand it minimizes the glorification of the overly thin, that has lead to so many eating disorders. But the issue is that it exchanges it for body types that can only be achieved through plastic surgery. Thicker body types are generally thicker throughout. From all my experience in the fitness industry, I have seen that no matter how much exercise we do, there is no way to spot reduce.”
Body ideals are constantly changing. In the 80s, the aerobics body was in. Think lean, toned, and strong figures much like Cindy Crawford’s during her modeling days. The 90s was all about Kate Moss – a look to be as thin, frail and bony as possible, triggering eating disorders left and right.
Today we have Kim Kardashian who sports a curvier physique, but the unrealistic proportions are insanely problematic. It also gives into the idea that there is only one “ideal body type.”
“Anything that glorifies just one body type as the goal without acknowledging other types as equally appealing, is dangerous because it idealizes something and creates comparison,” says Rodriguez. “We are all different. We don’t come in one size. Unachievable standards create a gap between oneself and what is considered acceptable or beautiful,therefore creating a sense of insecurity because if that body type is beautiful and I don’t have it, then through deduction, it is natural to assume I am not beautiful. This creates internal suffering, contributing to depression, eating disorders, and low self-esteem to start what leads many to self-destruction.”
I remember having a conversation with my mother complaining about my thighs a few days leading up to my trip to Portugal this August and she immediately shut me down. She went on to tell me how I inherited her legs, one of the nicest, sexiest parts of my body. At that point I felt silly even bringing up the whole thigh gap thing. I went on my trip, hit up the beach in my 90s style bikinis and said eff it! I took tons of pictures of me in my proud bikini body. Then went on to unfollow every single fitness influencer on my IG who was sporting a thigh gap or unrealistic body proportions that were only going to lead me to feel bad about my own body.
“There is a sense of freedom that is achieved in the process of owning who you are. Many people live in the misconception that love, success, or inner peace will be achieved once they look a certain way,” Rodriguez says. “How would it feel to know that you are absolutely complete right now in this moment? Well, you are. Celebrate you and all that you are.”
I decided I’m going to continue to take care, nourish, and love my body. I refuse to hate my thick thighs and let any ridiculous body ideal – like the thigh gap – make me feel any less beautiful.