The latest trend that may be harming teenage girls.
There is nothing new about our obsession with being skinny. Times that by a thousand if you’re talking about teenage girls. Year after year it seems trends that seek to exploit high school age girls seem to appear flaunting unhealthy, often unobtainable, body goals for this impressionable and coveted demographic. The latest unhealthy trend, “thigh gap.” It’s just like it sounds, being so skinny that a gap remains between the legs with your thighs never touching. Even when your knees are together.
The first images that came to mind when I heard about this trend were the horrid images of emaciated prisoners of war, like the photos of liberated Jews from the Holocaust. Images of people so thin and near death, they looked like living skeletons. So why would anybody in their right mind want to look like this?!
Turns out that many teenage girls desire this look and it’s the standard of skinny they measure themselves by. Sites all over social media platforms like Tumblr and Facebook have popped up celebrating the skeletal fashion trend. Granted, some girls are natural this thin, and should be concerned with keeping weight and muscle on, but for the vast majority of teens – this body goal is simply unrealistic and UNHEALTHY!
The problem is that images of near starving women on the runway and in movies fuels the idea that this is normal.
The lack of diversified body types in popular media leaves one with the false impression that it’s desirable to look like a skeleton. Retailers and taste-makers further enforce this ludicrous notion. Add to that an obesity epidemic and junk food obsession and you have a reality gap between what we celebrate and what is actually healthy.
As far as a healthy life-style is concerned neither too skinny nor too much weight is healthy. So why is too skinny celebrated as good? For hundreds of years a little weight was desirable in women. Look at the classical paintings by the masters and it becomes apparent that our standards of beauty have made a 360 degree turn around.
Our obsession with being skinny isn’t going away anytime soon. Even while reading about the negative effects of the “thigh gap” trend I notice advertisements featuring ultra-skinny models sprinkled in with warnings from doctors about eating disorders. The mixed messages we send our teens is a big part of the problem. Chances are even as you read this article, ads for weight loss fads litter your screen. 16 year old models selling wrinkle cream or emaciated actresses going on about loving yourself, are all part of the schizophrenic messages we put out there. No wonder why are kids are so misinformed. It’s easy to dismiss dangerous teen healthy trends and blame it on fickle teens but it’s a reflection of a larger problem that exists within our culture.
There is no easy answer but the so-called taste makers, advertisers and casting directors aren’t innovators, they’re followers.
And until we demand that diverse and realistic body types are represented in the media, we are doing our children a tragic disservice. Only a small amount of people actually can live up to the distorted images of what a good body is. Teenage girls are particularly vulnerable to trends. Such a sad irony when you consider this is a time in their lives when they should be developing positive self images and be more concerned with healthy habits that they will carry with them for a lifetime. Unfortunately there is no money to be made telling our kids that they are OK the way they are. Millions of dollars are spent each year by the beauty industry to tell girls they are not happy until they look like a freak of nature. My advice to young women, concern your self with what is healthy instead of trendy. No matter what you look like or wear or do, advertisers will be looking to you for what is hot. You are the leaders, they are the followers. Demand more from your culture than the self-hate and lies constantly sold to you.