Is ‘Thigh Gap’ The New Heroin Chic?


Back in college, I remember listening to two guys debate whether or not the “thigh gap” was sexy. One guy thought it showed that women were in great shape and — in his words — “took care of themselves.” The other argued that this space between the upper legs was “gross” and made a woman look unhealthily thin. It was a stupid debate because a couple inches between a woman’s thighs does not indicate how healthy or unhealthy she is. She could have it and run marathons. She could also not have it, and also run marathons. And yet, there may be a growing obsession with the appearance of thigh gap with more of the public trying to attain it.

While there has always been a demand for surgeries to decrease the size of women’s thighs, a clinic called Lovelite (uh, nice name, guys) reported to The Daily Mail that it had seen a 240% increase in the number of lipoglaze procedures done to create the thigh gap. Lipoglaze involves freezing up fat cells so they “die and disappear.”

One model is being cited as part of the “thigh look” people are attempting to emulate: Cara Delevingne (pictured above). The 20-year-old, size 2 model has seen her career blow up in the past year, suddenly becoming one of the most sought-after females in the business. There are actual Twitter accounts devoted to her thighs (no, really), one of which has a profile that reads, “@Caradelevingne works me out everyday so I can stay this perfect.” The thing about thighs (say that five times fast) is that there is no such thing as “perfect” and it’s ridiculous to consider one standard of thigh shape to be the pinnacle of excellence. Your thighs are your thighs, and they do not need to look like anybody else’s to be perfect. But I digress.

According to Huffington Post, this is actually not a huge deal and women have been seeking upper-thigh-thinning surgeries for ages. Dr. Robert Murphy, American Society of Plastic Surgeons president-elect, said, ”So ‘heroin chic’ has been replaced by thigh gap, huh?” In Murphy’s, these procedures haven’t noticeably increased in demand.

That said, there doesn’t need to be a big bump in surgeries for there to be a growing obsession with thinner thighs. People have been dealing with eating disorders — which don’t cost any money nor medical procedures — for entirely too long, so I don’t think statistics from doctors are the only way to gauge this. With the advent of pro-ana websites, blogs, Twitters and Tumblrs, the incredible preoccupation with thinner bodies, including the “thigh gap,” has unfortunately become a social bonding source that can be easily shared.

Whatever your body type, keep in mind that you are not the absence or appearance of a few inches between your thighs. Whether it’s fat, muscle or air, those inches are irrelevant to what kind of person you are, so don’t let them sum you up, not even for a moment.

Photo: Lia Toby/

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    • Sean

      I remember years ago (Melrose Place was still on, so let’s say 15) listening to two radio hosts discuss Heather Locklear on Melrose, and they viewed it as unnatural that her thighs didn’t touch. Like, they considered it freaky.

      • Samantha Escobar

        It bums me out that anything involving somebody’s figure could be considered freaky :(

    • Amanda

      I love when people look at someone’s body type & then deem them ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’. I’m 113 lbs and you wouldn’t believe how many random strangers decide to comment on my thin appearance & how ‘unhealthy’ I look. I eat a very well-balanced diet and exercise on a regular basis, but I’m unhealthy because I don’t fit your standard of beauty?
      You can’t determine someone’s health due to their looks.

      Also, someone isn’t gross, disgusting or ugly just because they aren’t what you personally are attracted to. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

      Sorry, had to get that off my chest!

      • Samantha Escobar

        It’s crazy, right? Back when I did track & field ages and ages ago in school, I recall one of the absolute fastest runners being a girl who was easily one of the heaviest on the team and was often derogatorily called “stocky” or “thick” and told to slim down. But in all actuality, she was incredibly healthy and it was absurd for people to imply otherwise. Guh.

        And yeah, it bugs me when people use stupid terms like “gross skinny” or “fat-fat” as though there’s this imaginary rating system in which anybody who doesn’t fit between two exact standards is suddenly ugly. Hrrrrmph!

    • Jon

      cara ftw.
      haters to the left.

      • Samantha Escobar

        Uh, nobody’s hating her; it isn’t her fault nor problem that people idealize her body.

    • Fabel

      I discovered this was a thing while horror-reading pro-ana blogs in college. And I always thought it was the weirdest measurement of “skinny” —like, doesn’t it depend on lots of factors, like hip width & the way a person is standing?

      Obviously it’s stupid to begin with, but it’s also totally confusing. Also, I remember one of my guy friends going on and on one time about how he loved when girls thighs touched (& he was into women with a thinner build).

      I mention this not to be like, “men’s boners matter in this discussion!” but to illustrate how this idea can be completely undone. Everyone, please stop worrying about this!

      • Samantha Escobar

        “men’s boners matter in this discussion!”

        Hahahaha. I loved this.

        Also, even when I was obsessed with losing weight, I almost never read pro-ana blogs. That shit gets dark and disturbing real fast. Horror-reading definitely describes it.

    • eltito

      the human soul is what counts, outside appearance is in the eye of the beholder as Amanda mentioned…great article by the way!

      • Samantha Escobar

        Thanks! And totally agreed — beauty is subjective, but it also doesn’t exclude anybody.

    • sabrina

      my little sister (16, 5’8, 120lbs, heidi klum lookalike) and I (20, 5’2, 120 lbs, DD cup) were eating thanksgiving dinner. we had 3 to attend (dad, mom, boyfriend’s family) and we like to eat. sister runs about 6 miles after a big meal while i plop myself on the couch, but still.
      after eating and eating and eating we were lying on her bed saying how we thought we were dying from a food OD, and she said
      “i think i just ate away my thigh gap”
      i gave her so much shit for days.

      • Samantha Escobar

        Random, but I’m glad to know I’m not the only person who weighs as much as her siblings and is half a foot shorter (both my brothers are 150 – 160 and 6’1″ while I am 155 or so and 5’7″)!

      • sabrina

        yeah, she got those genes somehow. both my parents are tall and thin. i have actual boobs though, which comforts me when thinking i could have had those never ending legs.
        i honestly think most of my weight is in my chest. you don’t think about it, but they WEIGH something. so, girls have a built in excuse for weighing for than brothers/tiny sisters!

      • Jon

        boobs trump legs, it’s all good

      • Amanda

        Meh, depends on the guy. My boyfriend is totally a leg guy and could care less about boobs.

      • ilka

        there’s also nothing wrong with having neither boobs nor long legs

    • Cee

      The only reason I would like a thigh gap is so I can wear dresses without my fat rubbing against itself and giving me a painful rash, not to impress anybody really. I love myself, I don’t love that burn though. But alas, my metabolism does not allow me to drink and lose weight.

      • Eileen

        Haha yes! Except for me it’s to be able to run in plain athletic shorts instead of spandex. But I think it has more to do with how your body’s built than how much it weighs. My mom’s tall and slim, but she’s certainly not a model – but she has a “thigh gap.” My sister is way thinner, but she doesn’t.

    • Maggie

      I coach a high school girls’ rugby team, and during our workout yesterday, I overheard one of the girls (who is 14) say “I can feel the thigh gap coming!” I almost lost it. 14-year-old girls have so much to worry about already, and now they’re concerned with a thigh gap?! When their bodies aren’t even done growing?! So we’re having a “body acceptance” seminar next week, and they aren’t allowed to make any more body-negative comments regarding themselves or their teammates. It’s just ridiculous and makes me angry.

    • kerbear

      I think this is a great article, especially since it’s national eating disorder awareness week. Great job!

    • 2emalha

      Completely agree with this post. I have a thigh gap and my friend often compares her thighs to mine and it makes me sad because her legs are gorgeous as they are. The idea that there is one perfect female form is crazy when women are so diverse in their beauty

    • Izzie

      I think it really just has to do with your skeletal structure for the most part. Of course if your very thin it will help, but not necessarily. I have a very thin, petite friend who doesn’t have a thigh gap. I’ve very tall and have very muscular thighs, but I’m small-hipped and couldn’t have a thigh gap no matter how skinny I got. Then I know girls who are not much — if at all — thinner than me, and they have wider hips and a thigh gap. It’s all about the shape and size of your hips, as weird as that might sound, more than your weight.

    • Rhys Branman

      No, I’m sorry. That does not even look healthy to me.

      Dr Rhys Branman
      Little Rock Cosmetic Surgery Center

    • Amy

      Not sure what this new craze is about. It looks like she can’t close her legs.

    • notdatkindacoke

      Everything in moderation. Too skinny does not look nice, and too fat does not look nice either. There was a tasteful trend in the 90′s of referring to gym time as “bodyshaping”. Our bodies don’t look their best after spending all day in a cubicle, or on a couch. The genes we were born with, are a starting point. These models have some work to do, including taking in more calories. BTW – eavesdropping on frat boy conversations is not a great way to conduct a survey of male attitudes toward women.

    • Edna Bambrick

      The legs should come to a nice V shape just above the ankles. It shows men you’re not easy.

    • Edna Bambrick

      I remember the 1963 Kubrick movie, Dr. Strangelove, where the Russians were very worried with not having a thigh gap.

    • Dan Holstein

      serious waste of effort ,who the fuck cares? people who are so hung up should never reproduce!!!!!

    • Cat

      Okay…. I was thinking as a former fitness person that “her lack of definition in size in her VMO (innermost quad) is probably going to cause her knee-caps to track improperly and she will experience knee pain due to eventual bone-on-bone damage ie, osteoarthritis. However, I showed the picture to my boyfriend and he told me that he and his friends used to think that a girl whose legs look like they couldn’t close up into a “V” at the top have been “pounded” through too much sex and therefore had a flat, unattractive and worn-out female regions. Wow. Okay. I wouldn’t put that one together, but it is an eye-opener that it doesn’t bring out the “oh, she’s barely legal and therefore hot.” That’s what my obviously incorrect assumption would have been about the sexual interpretation of meatless thighs.

    • LogicalPosition

      Bring it, girls! Hot, hot, hot!

    • Marcus Landon

      Thigh gap when a woman is built like a teenage boy is neither sexy nor not sexy. It just is. But when a hard bodied curvy babe has thigh gap, it’s HOT as HELL! Its been 30 years since my then buddies and I started lustfully observing “the little gap near the top of the inner thighs” on REALLY fit chicks. And it looks especially luscious from the rear!

    • Vanderbil Covington

      Since the first female realized it was her attractive appearance that gave her social status and most importantly attracted eligible males to sire her offspring — have they become slaves to their looks Regardless of location or social status, women have subjected themselves to all sorts of weird and most oft harmful trends that led to the untimely death and disfigurement of far too many. When it comes to what is attractive to men, One need only watch the wide eyes of men as they become fixated on the voluptuous woman as she passes by