Where does thigh gap come from?
Thigh gap as a phrase rose to the public consciousness in December 2012, after the Victoria’s Secret fashion show was aired on TV. Social networks Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram all acquired various accounts and hashtags dedicated to showing off thigh gaps. Articles pointing out the dangers of the trend started appearing in early 2013.
However, the concept of having inner thighs that don’t touch as a standard for beauty dates back far earlier. The first mention of the term thigh gap on Twitter is from 2009. The term was also used in the 1990s on Usenet forums, however these uses were exclusively in the context of erotica and porn.
Who uses thigh gap?
Thigh gap is primarily used on social media, particularly in posts with visual components. It’s a common term in thinspiration or thinspo circles. Thinspiration is a portmanteau of thin and inspiration, and usually involves posting photographs of thin people as inspiration. Thigh gaps are one of the many subjects that thinspo materials idolize.
A thigh gap is not possible for everybody at a healthy weight. Whether or not you can get a thigh gap depends on the set of your hips. Wide-set hips may allow thigh gaps, but for those with narrower hips, thigh gaps aren’t possible even with very minimal fat on the thighs. Achieving one may require muscle wasting. Additionally, women tend to carry body fat around the hips and thighs, which makes this yet more difficult for them to achieve. The idealization of the thigh gap can be harmful to the body image of people who can’t or shouldn’t aspire to get one.
The high-profile image of thigh gaps has led to the use of the phrase the new thigh gap. Something that’s the new thigh gap is a new bodily beauty standard that people want to obtain or show off. It can be used sarcastically to call attention to the fleeting and arbitrary nature of such trends as well.
“Is streaky self tanner running down ur armpits the new thigh gap??”
Stephanie D'Agostini @StefDAgostini Twitter (February 16, 2017)
“An arepa a day keeps the thigh gap away #sensiblebreakfast #tourdefat #arepazone #dc”
juliawipeout Instagram (February 26, 2017)
“Mainstream media have taught us that being beautiful means having glowing skin, being blemish free; having a thigh gap; being a size 8 and having straight hair.”
Laila Majiet, “Fat shaming is not okay,” Jacaranda FM (March 3, 2017)