War! What is it good for!? Absolutely nothing. Sing it again.

A few weeks ago, my friend Karen (@ KCLAnderson ) posted an article about the " thigh gap " obsession among young women. My reacti...

A few weeks ago, my friend Karen (@KCLAnderson) posted an article about the "thigh gap" obsession among young women. My reaction? I posted this photo and caption to my FGvW Facebook:

I will never have a "thigh gap."
I will also never have a complex amount having a thigh gap.
*gasps* who knew a person whose thighs touched could be so happy, healthy, and strong?


The only reason I could feel this way was because I had read a book about Crystal Renn, a model who had gone from super skinny and sick to "plus size" and happy (and then back down again, but not as severely).  She and I are both 5'9" and she had to whither away to 98 lbs before her thigh gap appeared.  I decided then and there that this "goal" was (1) unrealistic (2) artificially created in my head and (3) unhealthy.  I would never put my overall health at risk for an aesthetic goal.  In this case, I'd just have to stock up on BodyGlide.

It's our fault, though.

If you've been following me for any amount of time, you know that I often talk about body image and how we've surrendered to the external voices telling us how we should look and be.  Our internal voice has been muted to the point we begin to espouse all these bizarre standards that other people (media, fashion, fitness world, doctors) say we should be aiming for.  We forget that our bodies should be as diverse and strong as our personalities. 

As a society, we've let other people tell us what is fashionable (designers, models, magazine editors), what is considered beautiful (artists), or even what is considered healthy (ahem, USDA and FDA, I'm looking at you).  We've relied on the expertise (?) of other people who claim to be more "in the know" or more educated.  The result is we've done horrible things to our bodies (foot binding, extreme corseting, flattening our heads, stretching our necks) that go beyond aesthetics and lasting effects on our health and wellbeing.  It's easy to look at those examples and think "that's crazy and extreme" all the while completely ignoring some of the things considered "normal" and "healthy" in this current society.  One day, future generations will laugh at us because we thought it was fashionable to starve ourselves to the point our thighs didn't touch, or to get an operation that would take care of that for us. 


I titled this post "War! What is it good for!? Absolutely nothing.  Sing it again." because we (men and women) seem to be at war with our minds and our bodies.  We see our minds/bodies as something that need to be controlled and subjugated.  I don't think a single person (even myself) is immune to this way of thinking (whether it be pervasive or in passing).  "Diet" is no longer what we chew in order to survive, but it's how we think and feel about what we put into our mouth.  "Exercise" is no longer about expressing the brilliance of our bodies, but more so about what we need to overcome in order to be what we want to become.  "Wellness" isn't about the joy we reap and sow, but the weeds we've pulled.  The war is about how we see ourselves in negative terms.  

There are so many people in my life -- blogs, Twitter, "in real life" -- who have achieved such great mental, physical, and emotional strength feats, and yet they are still at war with their bodies and their perceptions of themselves.  They are never satisfied with where they are (Point A) because they think they need to be somewhere else (Point B).  So I ask, "what is it good for?"   

What good is any of this if the result isn't an abundance of love for our bodies and joy in our life in this moment

What good is any of this if we don't feel satisfaction and appreciation for who we are and what we look like at this moment, even if it's imperfect according to other peoples' standards? 

Because folks, in my humble opinion, the way to win the war is to give your inner voice a megaphone, a soapbox, and one clear message... 
Original photo, Getty Images.
Decide to end the war.  Stick up for yourself.  See the beauty of what it means to be you at this very moment.  Celebrate it.  Embrace it.  Shout it from the mountain tops.  But more importantly, believe it.

Because if you truly believe that you're absolutely wonderful and complete in this moment, you silence all those external voices that want to think you're not enough, that want you to buy into their version of beauty and health, that want to hold you and your life hostage.

And sometimes you'll think to yourself "well, I'm not who I want to be" -- and that's okay.  I go through that all the time.  My only advice about that is to zero in on the motivation behind that statement.  For me, I'm not who I want to be because the things I want to change represent a great sadness in my life.  And I'm not sad anymore.  I want my mind and body to reflect my joyful heart.

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8 comments

  1. I remember hearing when I was VERY young, that you should have a gap in your thighs to be a healthy weight--- it TORTURED me for years, I beat myself up about not having this mysterious gap.

    It took till I was about 28 to accept that this is my body. It IS at a healthy weight and it is fit... and there is no gap. And that is okay :D

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  2. Great post! I remember an old workout video that actually had a segment showing exactly where a woman's leg should touch and the thighs were not one of those places. How awful is that?!? I will definitely never have the thigh gap either and that's fine with me!

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  3. **headdesk**
    If someone ever tried to tell me that my thighs shouldn't touch, I'd show them where the palm of my hand is supposed to touch their face.

    But you both highlighted exactly what I'm trying to say -- that we perpetrate these crimes against our bodies all because some external force says that's how it should be.

    What sweet relief when we realize how full of BS they are.

    Some peoples' thighs will touch, some won't. It doesn't mean one is right and one is wrong.

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  4. Love this Robby!

    It's so right on! There's nothing like not only almost losing my leg, but also almost losing my life to make me respect my body and who I am!

    Love this thought ... "Because folks, in my humble opinion, the way to win the war is to give your inner voice a megaphone, a soapbox, and one clear message... I DECIDE WHO I AM AND WHO I AM GOING TO BE!"

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  5. The only gap I'll ever have is the space between my earlobes and my neck. I'm ok with that.

    I'm not superwoman though... I see the pictures on pinterest and instagram. I envy those with a thigh gap. Then I go back and look at pictures of myself when I was young. Even at 9 and 10 years old I didn't have a thigh gap. I don't think I've ever had a thigh gap.

    Screw you society and your quest for a thigh gap. I'll just take my baby powder and pffft at your perceived notions of health.

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  6. Janet:
    Isn't it amazing that we arrived at where we are emotionally because we had doctors that tried to tell us who we were and what we could/could not do? I was about to say "I can't imagine what it would be like for you" but I read your book. At some point we all have to dig deep and ask ourselves "what really matters?" For you, it was living and for many of us it's about learning to live within the bodies we have.

    Sammie: like I said in a comment above, we come in all shapes and sizes. Instead of trying to homogenize the population, we should be thankful that we're so diverse. When I was 9/10, I was a little chubster, but I was (relatively) happy and played all the time.

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  7. I loved this! Even at a "normal weight" (I hate that term) I didn't have a thigh gap. To be honest, I didn't know that was supposed to be desirable.

    You've totally confirmed what I've come to believe - we are allowed to be happy and respected regardless of our weight or our shape.

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  8. Hanlie: my desire for the thigh gap was purely a functional desire-- I hated how my thighs would rub and chafe when I wore a skirt. They wold chsfe to the point of bleeding. The stronger and more toned my legs got, the less they chafed but they still touched.

    I dont want what I wrote to be permission for anyone to abuse their body by neglecting it either...just want the focus to be on health and ability, not aesthetics.

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<3 Robby