Dishing It Out by Andrea Macko
When I told my husband I was writing about “thigh gap” for this week’s column, he rightly responded with “huh?”
“Allow me to demonstrate,” I responded, grabbing at my inner thighs in a failed effort to pull the skin, muscle and everything else taut so there would be space between my legs. “Oh,” he finally answered. “Haven’t we gotten past stuff like this?”
As is often the case, he hit the nail on the head. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to produce much of a gap between my legs; heck, even when I was 30 pounds lighter (thanks, life-threatening flu), my thighs still touched. But there’s a whole demographic of women that don’t have this knowledge and confidence in how their bodies are built — and this is a dangerous trend.
According to a recent Globe & Mail article, having a gap between your thighs is the newest beauty goal amongst teens. It’s a challenging status symbol, for having a gap not only means that you have very slender legs, but also curvy hips. The gap is often found in young female celebrities, accompanied by short skirts and high heels to better highlight it.
Some young women are sharing photos of gap-legged celebrities and dangerous tips on how to diet that gap into reality on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Unlike a general desire to be fit or to lose a few pounds, trying to achieve a thigh gap is scarily specific, and it’s a trend that’s frustratingly female-fuelled. Imagine your daughter saying “I want to be thin enough so I can count my ribs” and you can feel the chill down your spine and the outrage in your heart.
The majority of adult women know that this is just the latest in a long line of proclamations on what is considered universally attractive. No one knows who’s making these decisions, but it’s safe to say that, after a few years of idolizing Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez for their curvy silhouettes, it was only a matter of time before we reverted to a waiflike ideal. Both ends of the “ideal” spectrum isolate roughly half of the population based on genetics alone — and for the other half, there are not enough hours in a day to spend working out and planning meals to bother achieving it.
Most adult women have come to accept how the good Lord fundamentally built us, but it’s a different story when you’re riding on the emotional roller coasters of puberty and high school. Back in our day, we might have just shed a few tears in a change room or complained to friends. But now, with the omnipresent online necessity to share, compare, photograph — and in some cases, ridicule — what doesn’t meet the ideal, it’s not as easy to tuck these concerns away. Envying a thigh gap isn’t a direct road to an eating disorder, but it’s certainly not a good use of free time for a teen either.
Women who naturally possess this gap shouldn’t be rounded up for self-esteem treason. Our slender-legged sisters are not the enemy; it’s the uniformity of what is considered attractive that’s the problem, regardless of whatever the body aspiration of the day is. We acknowledge that different colours, flowers, and periods of arts are all beautiful — why can’t we do the same with women’s bodies? Why is there just one standard of beauty that women must conform to?
It’s not a matter of banning fashion magazines or blocking television shows which include the female form. We need our young women to realize their bodies are capable of more than announcing our apparent level of attractiveness — sports and other activities are a good start in shaping a broader physical view. Our bodies are not just a collection of parts — or of gaps — to be judged, but rather, a sum of parts that sees us through life.
I’ve been craving tuna salad lately, and this version sings with flavour. Just as women are diverse, so are recipes for this classic — so let your own preferences guide you on the measurements.
Curried Tuna Salad
(from Andrea’s kitchen)
2 cans tuna in water, drained
1 apple, cored and diced small
Handful of raisins
Half a yellow or red pepper, diced small
1 green onion, chopped fine
Yellow curry powder, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients and serve immediately or let flavours develop in fridge. Especially good in a wrap or pita with lettuce. Easily makes six sandwiches.