Thigh gaps, defined as the negative space between one’s legs, emerged as the enviable body trend teen girls and women pined for in recent years. Thinspiration posts featuring thin gams proliferated on social media sites, encouraging users to lose weight in order to reach an aspirational — and often unattainable — goal. But since promoting the thigh gap was revealed to be unhealthy, it’s become a buzzword with negative connotations. So it’s shocking that while so many efforts have been made to curb the use of pro-ana verbiage and imagery, one of the most-watched entertainment shows on television is still pushing cosmetic procedures in order to get the look.
On Wednesday night, E! News aired a piece called “How to Get That Sexy Thigh Gap Easily,” explaining how to get legs like the stars’. “If you gained some holiday weight, help is falling right into your lap,” Jason Kennedy said. Catt Sadler quipped back, “Yeah, it is. Actually, right between your thighs.” Then the segment cut to a voice-over. “If T. Swift’s thigh gap is inspiring some of your New Year’s resolutions, we’re revealing a shortcut to make it happen,” the voice-over explained as the camera panned on red carpet footage of the singer in a mini dress.
The shortcut, which the reporter described as being a “simple, painless, and semipermanent procedure to give us regular folks that thigh gap,” is Kybella, an FDA-approved treatment to destroy fat cells. Nurse Jaime, a registered nurse and owner of the Beauty Park Medical Spa in Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi, demonstrated the noninvasive cosmetic service on camera. First, Nurse Jaime uses a tool that emits radio frequencies in order to thicken the collagen fibers. Next, she injects a fat emulsifier that “literally breaks down the fat,” which the patient then secretes through their urinary system. According to the subject, the pain level was 1 or 2 max, and the whole thing takes about 15 minutes. “Starting at 300 bucks, it’s a cosmetic procedure with impressive results — and costs less than an iPhone,” the voice-over concludes.
The story was first shown on December 28 and then rebroadcast on January 14. (The video, which was posted to eonline.com shortly after its airing last month, has since expired on the site but can be watched here.) Many called it sad, harmful, and confusing. But resoundingly, the question being asked was why the show was publicizing such beauty solutions.
Why is there a procedure to create a thigh gap?! Wtf E News.— Taylor Strode (@TayyMorgan96)January 14, 2016
E! News: “We’ll show you where to get a thigh gap for cheaper than an iphone” ..then i vomited & switched channels. Disgusting.— alicia (@AliciaAmour)December 29, 2015
E! News is talking about how to get a thigh gap for less than an iPhone and people wonder why eating disorders & self harm is so prominent— xgiacoppox126-Vinnie (@xgiacoppox126)December 29, 2015
E! News showing how to get a thigh gap for less money than the iPhone. Yet people wonder why girls have body dysmorphia and disorders 😑sad— Taylor Starr (@taylor_starr_x0)December 29, 2015
Claire Mysko, the interim CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association, agrees with the social media consensus. “I think it’s irresponsible anytime the media tries to tell you that there’s something ‘wrong’ with your body,” she tells Yahoo Style. “I’m even more skeptical when they’re selling something to help you ‘fix’ it.” She explains that the term “thigh gap” is not only irresponsible but also misleading. “The media pushes the idea that a thigh gap is indicative of someone being at an ‘ideal’ weight. But everyone’s body is different, and weight is not an indicator of health,” she adds.
Mysko says that pieces like this send a message to viewers that there is just one “perfect” way to have a body. “When the medical community engages in this unrealistic chase for perfection, it implies that science is on their side.” Unfortunately, though, striving for what society bolsters as the optimal figure results in individuals engaging in dangerous behaviors, such as extreme dieting and unhealthy weight-control methods, which often result in eating disorders. “Having poor body image is far more unhealthy than having thighs that touch.”
Interestingly, while E! seems ignorant to the dangers of using the term, it has reported on the thigh gap before and is seemingly well aware of its connotations. Search “thigh gap” on the website and articles in which celebrities such as Demi Lovato, Robyn Lawley, and Kate Winslet speak to body image. There are Photoshop horror stories and even a post about a clinic in Texas that provides a similar treatment that the reporter calls “crazy.”
According to an E! spokesperson, “As a pop culture and entertainment news outlet, E! News covers a wide range of celebrity and beauty looks, trends and treatments that are currently happening in the industry. We regret using the term “thigh gap” in this segment and certainly do not want to encourage an unhealthy body image.”
Body-Peace Resolution is Yahoo Health’s January initiative to motivate you to pursue wellness goals that are not vanity-driven, but that strive for more meaningful outcomes. We’re talking strength, mental fitness, self-acceptance — true and total body peace. Our big hope: This month of resolutions will inspire a body-peace revolution. Want to join us? Start by sharing your own body-positive moments on social media using the hashtag #bodypeaceresolution