Thigh gap... the beauty trend that almost broke me
I remember the first time I realized that the "thigh gap" was a thing. It happened at some point during my third year of college. I was standing and looking at myself in the mirror, when a friend of mine pointed out how lucky I was that my thighs only touched a little bit. The comment confused me, I had never really considered the distance between my thighs as a positive or negative thing. And it was in that very moment that my quest to having a thigh gap began. It was almost instantaneous. I discovered a new thing about my body that was good but not good enough and I was ready to do whatever it took to achieve the illustrious thigh gap. How hard could it be?
From that day forward what I saw in the mirror was forever changed. Where before I saw two legs, now I saw two legs that were way too fat to be attractive. Even though this was triggered by a compliment, I took as something that was wrong with me. All of the sudden, because my legs touched, I couldn't stop staring at their point of contact, and with every stare they somehow appeared larger and larger to me. In other words, I became obsessive to a really unhealthy point.
Over the next year my body image issues grew increasingly more destructive and my eating became more and more disordered (you can read more about this here).
And then, finally, it happened. I had starved myself enough to have my very own thigh gap. When my legs stopped touching it felt like I had won some kind of lottery. I attached my worth and value as a woman on the space that sat between my legs. I was so deep in my messy world that I had no idea how self-destructive and unhealthy I was being at the time. The worst part about this I think was all of the positive feedback I got from, well... pretty much everyone. At my thinnest, I was getting compliments left and right about how great I looked and had people asking me how I did it. I used this positive attention to keep me going, even though inside I was collapsing. I was starving, I was tired, and I hated myself. My self-love was contingent on my body staying a certain size. I would weigh myself every day, sometimes even twice a day, and if I gained so much as a pound I would plummet into a world of self-hate. I checked my legs in the mirror constantly, making sure that the thigh gap I worked so hard to achieve was still there. Deep down, I knew I couldn't keep living like this forever, and the thought of ever gaining weight literally made me feel sick. I lived in a constant state of fear. On the outside I looked thin and happy but on the inside I was a mess.
I stayed in this frantic state for almost three years, but finally I hit my breaking point somewhere between almost passing out while dancing several times and living in a constant state of anxiety. (You can read more about my journey back to health here). One of the hardest things about becoming healthy again, allowing my body to gain weight and balance out was giving up my attachment to my thigh gap. In all honesty, it was one of the last things to go when it came to my struggles with body image. But once I unlocked the chains that were keeping me stuck in this perpetual state of self-destruction, my heart was so happy to be free that it was more powerful than my desire to maintain my thigh gap.
Even with all of the internal work I had done with my mindset, it still wasn't easy when my legs changed and I noticed them touching for the first time. All of the old thoughts and feelings came flooding back in and it took a lot of commitment and support for me to continue to work through all of that. To this day I have moments where I struggle with my body image, but thankfully I have the tools and support bring myself out of that.
Now, if this were just an isolated story about little old me, it wouldn't really matter. But that's the thing, SO MANY women I know, work with as clients, and have spoken with in my life have struggled with the SAME EXACT thing. If you're one of them, I want you to know you're not alone. SO MANY of us attach our worth and value to the way we look. We base these ideas of beauty on a specific body type, no matter how different it may be from ours, and punish ourselves if we don't fit into that one tiny little mold. But I'm here to say, no more. It doesn't have to be like this.
We are stronger than our body image, we are stronger than thigh gaps, we are stronger than physical appearances. The way out of this struggle is to first recognize that you're in it. Realize that you've attached your value to your appearance, and give yourself the space to see that. From there you are empowered to make a NEW CHOICE, and you can choose to actively start working towards truly loving and accepting yourself. Maybe your thighs don't touch naturally and you're healthy that way, if that's the case, awesome! But if you're fighting against your body and forcing it to fit some mold that you believe is beautiful, while hating and and punishing yourself, take this as a sign that it's time for you to let go of that.
I am happier now being healthy with my thighs touching then I ever was when I was at my tiniest. Even though it was scary to let go of the external things I held onto to make me feel valuable and beautiful, it was so incredibly worth it, because what was on the other side was peace. True and complete peace with myself and my body.
Committing to change is never easy, but it's always worth it when the change is in service of your higher good. Give yourself the gift of peace and stop fighting against your body.
p.s. If you're ready for some support in your quest to self-love and finding balance in your life, click the button below to schedule a complimentary strategy session with me.