“Thigh gap,” a new term trending on social networking sites, is driving girls to starve themselves, to achieve a space between their upper legs.
Jennifer Marotta, professor of humanities at Humber College, links thigh gap to body dysmorphic disorder.
“It’s a type of body dysmorphia when you’re unhappy about your body,” Marotta said. “People feel they have control over food if they don’t have control in their relationship, school or job.”
“They feel achieving this body, will make [them] worthy,” said Ann Wainwright, Humber psychology professor. “‘If I can achieve this, I will be perfect.’ Models have that build. But many photos are retouched, so women are trying to attain something that’s not even real.”
Some social media sites like Pinterest have banned any photos or content related to anorexia.
“Social media initiates it, when people see it [online] they think it’s okay and [social media] promotes it,” said Tara Ocansey, a second-year fashion arts student. “It’s very common, especially at the Victoria Secret fashion show. On Twitter, people were wishing they were like that and those models. It makes it seem like that’s normal and that’s how people should look.”
Letting food control self-worth and self-esteem can be a slippery slope, said Wainwright.
“I would hope they realize your value as a person doesn’t come from if your thighs are touching or not,” she said.
Festina Smith, second-year fashion arts student, isn’t new to the world of thigh gaps.
“Being in the fashion program, I’m constantly surrounded by beautiful people. It’s everywhere in the media, it’s second nature to desire that look,” said Smith, adding that as someone tall and thin, her perceived thigh gap is naturally attained.
“Because of the generation we’re in, the [thigh gap] is a trending topic,” Smith said. “In a few months, it’ll die down and you’ll regret [making efforts to attain a thigh gap].”