How Do I Talk To My Daughter About “Thigh Gap”?
I was standing in line to check out at my pharmacy the other day when I saw the most frightening sight. A teeny-tiny barely-there skirt clinging to boney hips was all that stood between me and a clear view of the most skeletally thin legs I’d seen on a grown woman in my life: thigh gap! My team has been trying to get me to blog about it, but until I saw it first hand I didn’t realize how horrifying it really can be. The young woman in front of me looked a lot like this photo, which I found at the proud blog of an anorexic. As unattractive as you might find this, all-too-many tween and teen girls find it appealing…sexy even. And they’ll do anything to achieve it. And many girls who obsess about thigh gap, end up struggling with eating disorders.
Think your daughter is to bright to fall for that? You might consider that it’s often the brightest and most promising young girls that fall for anorexia.
Think your daughter’s too young to fall for that? Anorexia often hits girls in their tween years, not their teen years, with some eating disorder clinic patients being as young as five. (Bulimia tends to hit when a girl is older.)
So let’s muscle up our minds, moms! And be brave enough to have real conversations about a real problem. Here are five things you need to discuss with your daughter.
1.) Ask her if she knows about thigh gap and what she thinks about it? Your daughter’s body condition, the existence or lack of a thigh gap, and conversation about it will not be what clues you in to a problem. In general, girls who loathe their bodies don’t wake up one day and say, “Hey, mom. I really hate my body. I think I’ll starve myself until I achieve thigh gap. Yeah! A little miserable anorexia sounds just great!” You have to ask. I have two especially thin daughters and we have open conversations about their weight and how they feel about themselves. This always begins with me asking about trends and just hearing their heart on the matter. You might also note if there is a sudden interest in diet or exercise, as sometimes that is a sign of the obsession.
2.) Explain to her that a thigh gap is not about how skinny a person is, but how their bone structure was formed at birth. Doctors warn that very few women have the true bone structure that leads to thigh gap naturally and healthfully. I found this great illustration on a women’s health and nutrition site. You might share it with your daughter.
3.) Show her photos of photoshopped thigh gap and explain that it’s usually not real. Then, show her examples of real women in video or photos where you can see how a woman is supposed to look. (No gap!) As much as you’d like to think she never sees these kinds of photos, she probably does. It’s better to show them to her and talk about it than to pretend they don’t exist.
4.) Explain to her the risk of reducing body fat to the point of actually having “thigh gap.” Risks include harming your body to the point of creating “brain gap.” You better believe it. Losing too much weight can impact your brain, heart, lungs. It can also lead to loss of her period if she’s already cycling. Nothing good comes of excessive weight loss.
5.) Above all, pray! I remember reading in Beth Moore’s “Feather’s From My Nest” of the account of praying her daughter Melissa’s struggle with an eating disorder. Oh, how that mama prayed. And called down the power of heaven to reduce the stronghold in Melissa’s mind to rubble. What a glorious day it was when her daughter realized that she was feasting her eyes on images that were unattainable and unholy and asked her mother to come help her take magazine pages off her bedroom wall! Remember, whatever we worship and dwell on will inform what we believe about ourselves.
At the risk of sounding sacreligious and trite (but, oh, I rely on a lotta laughter to get me through the ugliest stuff), I invite you to share with your daughter these “celebs” who really do have real “thigh gap!” Perhaps that will curb her appetite!
Dannah Gresh’s Secret Keeper Girl Tour is a faith-based mother-daughter connecting experience. This 2 1/2 hour event features two fun fashion shows that demonstrate modesty and true beauty, deep Bible teaching, live worship, and stories that help girls aged 7-12 embrace true beauty and modesty. Incredible balloon sculptures, bouncing beach ball competitions, mother/daughter conversation time & colorful confetti cannons make the night unforgettable. Click the video below for a sneak peak.