So, the piece from parenting.com really killed it, but I have my own “thigh gap” issue I thought I’d share. When I modeled back in the day, I remember being 16 years old, riding in a van driving from casting (the model industry word for audition) to casting. This was in Tokyo, where 5’10½” was considered huge, and my athletic dancer/athlete frame still needed to lose to a few pounds. So, before I even arrived in Japan, I limited my diet to a cantaloupe a day. One of the older models in the van admitted to eating only a carrot a day. A cantaloupe would have been binging. I looked down at my knees and thighs, exposed by the skirt I was wearing. They seemed SO much bigger than the other girls’.
I ran track in high school until I stopped eating. I always had an athletic build, with muscular legs and thighs. Yet, I was still tall and thin. But, I felt big compared to other models.
I actually worked really well in Tokyo, but modeling wedding dresses was a struggle because my ribcage was too large. (Remember, I was 16.)
Anyway, when I returned to home, I stood in front of the mirror in high school drama class to see if I had a “thigh gap.” My skinny freshman friend did, but I was a junior by then and concerned I was overweight. Please. My thighs hardly touched. But touch, they did.
It was in Milan, when my roommate from New Zealand asked to borrow my jeans, because she wanted to wear something baggy. Ouch. She was wonderful and sweet, and she knew my struggles with my body. Her grandma used to tell her that true ladies’ thighs touched. My roommate’s did not. So I was a “lady,” but ladies don’t get modeling jobs.
Just because I am retired from the international fashion scene does not mean I still don’t look in the mirror wearing my skinny jeans to see how much my thighs touch. It’s ridiculous, I know. I am 35 and a mom and preach healthy body image, but the “thigh gap” issue is ingrained in my head, darn it.
As a Girls on the Run coach, I was confronted by a young girl who said she ran to lose weight. (Not the point of GOTR!) She is stick-thin, “like a pencil,” her friends tell her. But she doesn’t believe it. She says her thighs are fat. OMG! The girl did a back bend, and I could see her pelvic bone. She is eight years old, BTW.
No eight-year-old should EVER be concerned about the size of her thighs. No sixteen-year-old dancer/athlete/model should feel fat because her knees are larger than her friend’s. And I pray that I can keep my mouth shut when I judge my own body. My 19-month-old currently LOVES to eat and stands naked in front of the mirror and rubs her beautiful Buddha belly admiringly.
Unlike the mom in the parenting.com article, we probably will get mani/pedis together (maybe Daddy, too). And she already has a Barbie Dreamhouse, but she doesn’t know it, yet. I loved Barbies, when I was young, but we will open and honest in our discussion about dolls and clothes and appearance and media and gender roles and everything else.
I hope that when my girl is a teenager and mother, she can still stand naked in front of the mirror and admire her beautiful body, thigh gap or no.
Former international fashion model Rev. Sarah Renfro seeks to boost the body image of young women by educating them on the myths of media and focusing on divine within. She also preaches and teaches about marriage and divorce, motherhood, ministry, and mental illness.