I was basking in the sun on the Delaware beaches. I had just completed my first 5k and had even won my age group. In between dips into the ocean, I found myself discussing my accomplishment to a man and woman who had also ran the race. I told them how I was so excited to complete my first 5k because I had been a sprinter in high school and at one time could have only dreamed of running three consecutive miles.
That’s when he blurted it out, “Your thighs are huge.”
I didn’t get upset or mad. I just felt perplexed. I didn’t know how to respond. For his part I think it was a foot-in-mouth, not-meant-to-offend comment. But it still left me feeling confused. No one had ever told me that my thighs were huge. It wasn’t like they were out of proportion with the rest of my body or I had to search the mall for pants wider in the thigh. Was it a compliment? I wasn’t sure.
For a while there’s been a trend circulating the internet called the “thigh gap” This bothers me. It doesn’t bother me on a personal level, but it bothers me because I think about the young teenage girls that are bombarded with images of the “thigh gap” and other so called “ideals’. I was fortunate to spend my high school years without social media and constant reminders of what I should expect to be. I’m worried that young girls will see those images and think; “I need to have the ‘thigh gap’” I’m here to tell them, “You don’t need it.”
As a teenager I was fortunate to have positive experiences playing team sports including volleyball and basketball and also running track. My coaches never cared about my weight. How high could I jump? How fast could I run? It was our performance that mattered, not our appearance. I never had any concern over my weight or my clothing size. The only thing I cared about was if I was improving at my sport. But usually when I was good at my sport, I felt good about myself.
I can’t remember the last time I had a “thigh gap” or if I’ve even ever had one. If I was standing on that beach today hearing about my “huge” thighs I’d probably have a response. I’d say how my thighs are one of my favorite body parts. I’d say how even when I gain weight they still look strong and in shape. I’d talk about how they enable me to walk stairs of an observation tower to enjoy a wonderful view. I’d mention how they could walk for miles without getting tired or can squat over one hundred pounds. I would add how they have carried me over twenty-six miles without collapsing and gave me more confidence than I ever knew I could have. I would say they make me feel grateful and proud, and that’s something no one will ever make me feel bad about.