For any individual who has ever traveled by the complex London subway system there is one phrase that should automatically come to mind: “Mind the gap.” Within these subway stations, commonly known as the “Tube,” this simple utterance is meant to warn travelers of the wide gap created between the station platforms and the subway cars.

The subway intercoms play this phrase at every opening and closing of the doors to remind travelers of the dangers that could ensue if they don’t, in fact, “Mind the gap.”

Yet, here across the pond, these three little words have taken on a new meaning in order to warn society of a much different danger.

This new danger has nothing to do with subway cars or putting oneself in a life-threating situation. This danger is much worse- it involves a female’s thighs touching.

This trend is aimed directly at women to achieve a body image that “Minds the gap.” But what is the gap? In this instance, “the gap” is claimed to be a small opening between the tops of a woman’s thighs if she stands with her feet together. The school of thought is that the wider the gap, the sexier the woman.

If, however, the woman realizes that she does not possess this coveted thigh gap, she is deemed as overweight, and therefore, unattractive. And that, according to this fad, is the true danger of not “minding the gap”- becoming unattractive in the eyes of society.

This thigh gap movement started at the root of body image evil: the fashion industry. With the professional standards of “beauty” becoming skinnier, the thigh gap emerged among prospective models as a way to keep up with the pressures from modeling agencies and media.

Slowly the term began to enter terminology through the internet, particularly through the dreaded comments sections of some popular websites, slowly building steam until it entered the common vernacular through Twitter and Facebook.

In recent months the desperation for a thigh gap has leaped from the catwalks to the sidewalks. The thigh gap has seeped into the everyday culture of women, reminding them that the only way to be truly beautiful, sexy, and happy is to get that gap.

But, there are some fundamental problems with this hideous philosophy. The first is that, for the majority of the female population, obtaining a thigh gap is biologically impossible.

The issue of the space between a woman’s thighs has nothing to do with fat or excess weight, but a woman’s bone structure. From the time that a woman is born, her physical makeup determines whether or not she will ever be able to have a thigh gap. It is entirely a matter of genetics- genetics that most women don’t have.

But even with orthopedic surgeons, geneticists, and health professionals expressing this reality, women have not seemed to listen. They continue to chase this society-made pipedream. Many psychologists are studying the effects that the wanted thigh gap is having on young women’s minds and the results are not pleasant.

According to a recent study by teen psychologist Barbara Greenberg, the percent of girls that dislike their bodies by the time that they are 17 has risen in the past year to a staggering 80 percent.

And who could really blame them? When the new standard of beauty is biologically impossible, how could women ever hope to measure up? But what is truly terrifying is that women are refusing to give up, even when health concerns and good sense would dictate otherwise.

However, the only method women have found to come close to a thigh gap is through dangerously unhealthy eating habits. Online posts and articles that are pro-gap state that some of the best ways to “gain the gap” include cutting off one’s daily calorie intake at 600 or doing cardio exercises for at least three straight hours every day.

The gap has heavily infiltrated social media sites with the Twitter hashtag “#Mindthegap.”

Horrifying tweets like: “When I eat I can’t stop. So I just don’t eat. #Mindthegap,” “Burned more calories at the gym today than I’ve eaten. #Mindthegap,” “Haven’t eaten all day. #Stayingmotivated #Mindthegap,” are showing just how far women will go on this mission.

The tweets and online commentsbecome even more horrifying when the trolls of the internet join in, finding any picture of a young woman on Instagram or Twitter and commenting with things such as “No gap? No guy. #MindtheGap” and “He’d like you more if you had a gap. #MindtheGap.” These commentors are antagonizing an already fraught situation, and they just won’t stop.

Recent surveys by The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Related Disorders, there are noticeable spikes in eating disorders in women since the emergence of the thigh gap.

Twenty-five percent of college-aged women regularly engage in binging, purging, or starvation to maintain their ideal weight, ninety-one percent of college-aged women have attempted to control their weight through crash dieting and starvation at least once, and over twenty-four million

Americans as a whole are currently suffering from an eating disorder. And we, as a society, think we need to encourage starvation? Absolutely not.

Ladies: hear me when I say that there is nothing wrong with a thigh gap. If you were born with the biological composition that allows you, at your healthiest, to have a thigh gap, then that’s fine- that’s beautiful.

If you are in the majority of women who find themselves without a thigh gap, I urge you to refuse to “Mind the gap,” because it’s just not worth it.

You are better than a thigh gap, you are not defined by a thigh gap, and you are beautiful without a thigh gap.

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