The Vagenda

Why Cosmo’s Wrong About The Thigh Gap


Thigh gap bible Cosmo has confounded readers this week by declaring itself anti-thigh gap. Whether or not the magazine will be embracing plumptious thighs that rub together insofar as featuring them in photographs in their magazine remains to be see, but we reckon the answer is : ER, NO.
In a piece entitled ‘Why the thigh gap needs to stop immediately’, writer Kendra Alvey manages to make some relatively well thought out arguments about body fascism while simultaneously shaming anyone whose skeletal structure means that their thighs don’t touch at the top, and of course pointing out to all Cosmo readers that she used to be a super-hawt Hooters girl and is therefore qualified to speak on this topic. According to super buff but not thigh-gapped Kendra, having a gap between your thighs ‘makes you look like a little boy in a Wes Anderson movie.’ Take that, wide-hipped, bandy-legged women of the world. I hope you feel fucking great about yourselves now. 
And thus, Cosmo’s #StopThighGap campaign falls at the first hurdle.
As numerous people who aren’t verging on brain dead have pointed out, it’s possible to criticise certain patriarchal structures without being a dick to the women involved in those structures. It’s called being a good feminist, and also not being a bitch to people. Hence you can think Playboy sucks a massive dong without insulting the women who get their paycheques from that very same company. However, such cognitive dissonance seems beyond churnalist Kendra, who seems to think that positioning herself as glorious saviour of a billion anorexics simply involves explaining how social media is likely to blame as it makes you well jells of all the skinny women you, sans internet, would never see, as well as how the thigh gap obsession is pointless because ‘most of us aren’t built that way.’ ‘Gee, thanks Kendra’, the western world’s eating disorder sufferers are all undoubtedly mouthing at their monitors, ‘all I needed was some of your straight-talking snark to snap you out of my SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS. Now back to my Moonrise Kingdom torrent.’ Seriously, F-off.
Some might say that Cosmo’s #StopThighGap campaign is a step in the right direction. To which I say: bullshit. It not only betrays a serious misunderstanding of how pro-ana works by assuming that eating disorder sufferers will simply snap out of it if they see how silly they’re being/how gross they apparently look, but it also manages to insult a whole load of women who might just have both wide hips and healthy lifestyles. It’s quite an achievement, and, from the looks of the Facebook comments, Cosmo readers call bullshit. 
It’s a shame that, as per usual, a serious point about access to pro-ana content being limited ends up obscured by body shaming lingo. If Cosmo wants to address the thigh gap and the issue of eating disorders, it needs to stop using shaming language such as ‘nuts’, it needs to stop positioning itself as a voice of reason in an image-obsessed world when it itself is a major part of this world, and it needs to have an honest conversation with its readers about how its pages and pages of bikini detox and cosmetic surgery advertorial have contributed to this clusterfuck of a situation. It needs to ditch the patronising ‘fairy godmother’ tone and stop asking questions such as Kendra’s inane: ‘Do you really think women like Tina Fey or Beyoncé care one single bit about a thigh gap? I bet they don’t. I bet they’re too busy being cool, talented and incredible.’ And it needs to stop fucking implying that people who suffer from eating disorders and body dysmorphia are ‘lame’ or stupid. (‘Ignore the lame and revere the intelligent’, says Kendra.)
Enough, already, Cosmo. You’re no longer the voice of a genaration, you’re no longer arbiter of what’s cool and what isn’t, you’re just another female-focused content peddler screaming into the abyss of the internet, and nothing exemplifies that more than the fact that you’ve managed to launch an attack on a worthy target – namely female-focused body facism – but for ALL the wrong reasons. 

8 thoughts on “Why Cosmo’s Wrong About The Thigh Gap

  1. Ok Cosmo, how about this – #StopPromotingOneBodyTypeAtTheExpenseOfAllOthersNoMatterWhatThatBodyTypeMayBe – although to be fair, that’s not going to work in a tweet. I wish people would stop posting things on Facebook about ‘real men liking meat and only dogs liking bones’, or pictures of bigger people on the beach (lol, tehehe etc, look at the funny fat people having some semblance of a life and not hiding away in shame #TotesHilar!). I wish people would learn to accept that we are all different, and what one person finds attractive or beautiful will differ from what another person does, and that anyway the sole purpose of our bodies is NOT to be simply attractive or beautiful to others.

    But that’s just me #IdealistAlert

  2. “it also manages to insult a whole load of women who might just have both wide hips and healthy lifestyles” – it’s sad that an article decrying body-shaming contains body-shaming language. It’s perfectly possible to lead an unhealthy life and also have a thigh gap, and the implied link between thin/ectomorphic body types and “healthy lifestyles” is exactly what we don’t need more of.

  3. This is very true! The direct correlation between ‘healthy’ and ‘thin’ is a myth, and we all need to watch our language and stop perpetuating it. It’s equally possible for someone to have a healthy lifestyle, and also not have a thigh gap! The two don’t correlate!

  4. It is possible to have a healthy lifestyle and a thigh gap, as many of our Twitter followers have pointed out today!!

    We have not said that ALL people with thigh gaps have healthy lifestyles, just that immediately assuming someone with wide hips must therefore have an eating disorder is shaming.

  5. Churnalism at its churniest. If these ever-concerned, hand-wringing, brow-furrowing journos want the thigh gap thing to ‘stop immediately’, all they need to do is cease writing hysterical articles about it. My BMI is 25.5, which I am aiming to reduce for health reasons. I’m curvy and short but have always had a thigh gap, which I like because I look damn good in a skater dress, but which I also was not aware of until it started being hysterically shouted at me from the front cover of every magazine. I can only apologise for ruining the thigh-gap/’real’ women dichotomy. Soz guys.

  6. That’s pretty much the opposite of what that sentence says. It’s countering the idea that women with “thigh gap” must be unhealthy, not saying that if they don’t they’re unhealthy.

  7. I swear the whole thigh gap thing is based on a big misunderstanding.. I used to see Facebook groups etc set up and followed by men all the time going on about ‘the gap’- a little gap about 2 inches big before a girl’s thighs curve inwards and touch. It’s undeniably suggestive/sexually attractive. Then we come to models who are so thin their thighs don’t ever touch/ people with wide hips who are naturally slim. Somehow the two have become merged and young girls think men find the latter quality attractive – they don’t , particularly. Of course some men might like it but it’s not generally fetishised and desired.