I have a confession to make. There was a period of time in my life when I actually achieved the elusive thigh gap. Here is what it took for me, a 5 ft 11 in ~200 lb woman, with naturally big legs and a full backside to get it.
- No refined carbs
- No meat
- No fruit
- No alcohol
- No sugary drinks
- No higher glycemic index vegetables (ie. carrots, tomatoes)
- Burning from 750-1200 calories per day with exercise.
Sounds fun, right? Not! I had in effect taken myself from about 220 lbs to 181 lbs in about 4-5 months following this protocol. [I really would not recommend this--I had several complications that changed my perspective on food drastically.]
One day, as I was watching my spandex clad self lift weights in the gym mirror, I noticed it. If I stood with my feet perfectly parallel, I could make out a beam of light coming through just above the fullest part of my thighs. I couldn’t believe that I achieved that which I had always thought was impossible for girls like me.
See I had secretly envied thigh gap since I was in high school. I had an unhealthy infatuation with Vogue, Elle, W and Glamour which helped me to construct an unrealistic view of what my body should look like. All of the girls I saw in the magazines were tall like me and didn’t have to worry about chafing or sweat when they wore skirts with no stockings. To be able to go out just throwing on a dress represented a kind of freedom to me. Jeans never fit right because they were always sized to accommodate my hips and buttocks, but the waist would maintain a horrible gape. And all of the models (and many of my classmates) had thigh gap. I started to think of myself as fat and that there was something wrong with me. The really crazy thing is that my high school weight was about 180 lbs – strangely close to my weight when I noticed my thigh gap in my 30s.
Fast forward to the 2010s. The quest for thigh gap has made a comeback. At least now, there are plenty of voices contradicting the messages coming from the fashion industry. Instead of having to suffer with ill-fitting clothes, several manufacturers have even developed products for people with bigger legs and fuller bottoms. Secrets for preventing chafing have also become a popular source of content on women’s sites. Today, one company, Barbell Apparel, is launching a new jean product on the market that targets athletes with muscular legs. They are positioning it as the “Anti-Thigh Gap” jean for people with athletic bodies. I think this is a great way to promote the appearance of healthy bodies. Let’s hope their sizing selection is reflective of all of the potential shapes of athletes and that this thigh gap nonsense will finally die an overdue death.
I am no longer worried achieving thigh gap, because I now realize how unrealistic my habits needed to be to achieve it. In addition slimmer thighs, my regimen yielded more sick days, dangerously low iron levels (even with supplements) and hair breakage. Even though I was eating lots of leafy green veggies and taking vitamin and iron supplements, my immune system didn’t find my diet to be protective. I am now an advocate of consuming mostly whole foods with a focus on plants and healthy unprocessed grains. It more enjoyable and more sustainable, even though my thigh gap has likely closed forever!