Today, I woke up and walked into the bathroom. There, standing in the blinding light with my hair so frizzed that it could compete with Einstein’s famous ‘do, is when I realized it. My heart sunk, my skin grew chilled.
My thighs touch.
Yep. Walking the length from my bedroom to the bathroom, my thighs rubbed against each other all the way. Standing in front of the mirror, they were still touching.
For a second, I panicked. Oh, no. Did this mean I was getting fat? Surely the weight I’d gained in my thighs wasn’t all muscle. Should I start running more after my regular gym sessions? Maybe this was because of all the peanut butter….
Then, I realized: Who cares?
Growing up, my thighs had always touched. I had run cross-country, but not seriously at all. I ate whatever I wanted, even entire chocolate bars or morning bagels that were more cream cheese than actual bread. I was never obese, but I wasn’t model-skinny either.
Enter college, a couple unhealthy “friendships,” and that feeling of losing control. I spent an hour on the elliptical every day, and found I didn’t like the prepared dining hall food as much as my dinners at home so I ate from the salad bar more often than not. The weight loss started out innocently as most do: just more good exercise and some different food changes.
But, of course, being a perfectionist I became obsessed. I wanted more. I wanted to become less.
Lacking a scale, I measured “success” in how many egg whites I ate, how much I could see the dimples forming in my cheeks, and how far apart my thighs grew.
I could remember someone telling me in grade school that every woman should have a good inch between her thighs. It meant you were healthy, thin. Sure, your knees could touch, but someone should be able to see a sliver of light between those thighs. Oh, yes, it was the dawn of the thigh gap.
Soon, my thighs weren’t rubbing against each other as much. Walking felt so freeing. My jeans no longer gave me brush burns. They didn’t stick together on a hot summer’s day. How could that be bad?
Thing is, eating disorders make us numb to our body image. We don’t see how thin we get, how famished we look, how the bags under our eyes are bigger than our sunken-in cheeks.
At the time, I thought I was becoming beautiful. Now, I cringe every time I see a picture from my nineteenth birthday.
Thigh gaps aren’t necessary to indicate healthiness. That space doesn’t measure your prettiness. It doesn’t measure your self-worth.
Some women might have that little extra space naturally, and that’s fine. We all have different body types, especially when it comes to our legs. But it shouldn’t necessarily be a goal for those who don’t.
For anyone recovering from an eating disorder, having your thighs touch again could be a sign of getting stronger and healthier. Your body is gaining important nutrients, muscle, and fat that help make your organs work.
Our bodies are vessels for our souls. They shouldn’t be things we whittle away at, piece-by-piece until there’s nothing left.
So, after that split second of panic, I realized something that nearly brought me to tears. I actually love my thighs.
I love how they touch now. Does not having a space between anymore make them stick together in humidity? You betcha. Does it get annoying that I keep having to buy bigger jeans? Well, my college student bank account certainly isn’t smiling.
But my thighs help me do amazing things. They help me squat and deadlift. Like a CrossFitter or something, I found myself actually bragging with my sister that I needed bigger shorts last summer because weightlifting had bulked up my quads. I can bounce my little cousins on my knee without having bruises anymore. I can walk up the five flights of steps at school without feeling like my legs are going to snap like twigs.
That lack of a gap means I’m getting bigger: not just physically, but mentally. It’s now okay that I take up space. That I’m not “skinny” or “fat.”
It’s time we love our legs. Gap, or no gap.
No specific questions today. Just your thoughts!