Admit it ladies, you’ve wished for a thigh gap. You’ve stood in front of your full-length mirror (affectionately known as “The Anti-Christ”), feet together, stretched as long and lean as you could get yourself and searched for the elusive thigh gap. Is there light between your legs? What does it mean if there is? What does it mean if there isn’t? Another diet, another self-recrimination? Another day you don’t deserve to feel good about yourself?
To those of you unacquainted with the Thigh Gap (blessed souls), let me elaborate. A thigh gap is a space—or gap—between your thighs. Brilliant right? What’s the big deal you ask, why such energy? And why on earth must there be a blog post about it? Fair questions—let me explain. It’s not the thigh gap itself that is so meaningful, because that’d be silly, right? But it’s what the thigh gap, or the bikini bridge, or the hands around the quads represent.
Unfortunately in our culture, women have taken to finding various ways to measure their worth by measuring their bodies. These new, creative ways of measuring the body are just updated versions of the scale, the tape measure, the clothing sizes… I could go on. Sadly, I really could go on. As women, we have been looking to external cues as evidence of our internal worth. And it’s completely ridiculous.
How could a gap between our legs say anything about our inherent worth, our goodness,
our creativity, our capacity to love? And yet everyday, millions of women reduce their worth to whether or not they see light between their legs. It’s insane and it’s insidious. Over time as we measure our worth by our bodies, we forget or minimize or disregard all the other things that make us unique. We walk around fueled by a negative mind that tells us we’re never going to be good enough.
When we are so hard on ourselves, we can’t help but be hard on others as well. We unwittingly move through our days looking for light between other women’s legs, as though we will discover something about ourselves. In those moments we fail to see the light in their eyes, hear the sparkle of their laughter, feel the kindness of their touch. When we reduce our own worth, we can’t help but reduce the worth of others. In that moment we are looking for evidence that we are good enough (if the other woman has no gap) or evidence that we will never be good enough (if the other woman has a gap). In that moment we no longer see another individual alive with struggles, hopes, and dreams. Instead we only see an object with which to compare ourselves, an object that either confirms or denies our inner narrative.
But, here’s the rub. Even if somehow as a result of our comparisons, we conclude that we are thinner, younger, prettier, etc. the shot of victory we feel will inevitably give way to a vague sense of emptiness. Because ladies and gentlemen, here it is: it’s impossible to feel good enough for long enough when the vehicle of doing so is to put down another person. It defies our very nature.
Let’s challenge this reliance on external cues of internal worth. Here are three ways to start now.
- Stop criticizing yourself. Remember your mom’s counsel “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?” Well it’s still great advice. Use it every time you see yourself in the mirror, every time you’re preparing to berate yourself, every time you call yourself a cruel name. Better yet, find some nice things to say about yourself. If you can’t think of anything positive, ask someone who cares about you to give you some ideas. Clearly they have reasons to care for you. Let them tell you. Now, listen.
- Refuse to compare yourself to others. Remind yourself why comparisons are dangerous. Remind yourself of your values. Ask yourself “Is this really how I want to relate to this individual?” Catch yourself and redirect “I want to connect to this person. I want to hear her funny story. I want to be present.”
- Cultivate other aspects of your identity. What makes you quirky? What are you passionate about? What do you want to learn about? There is so much that makes you unique. Learn to appreciate your qualities. Cultivate those characteristics you’d like to have. Try something new.
It’s time to challenge the narrow ways we define ourselves and others. It’s time to let go of the ridiculous ways we search for worth and discover instead that our worth was always here just waiting for us to notice. May we have eyes to see that which matters most.