Well, here I was hoping that in 2014, our teen girls would get a much-needed respite from the thigh gap trend. This trend, which glorifies the idea of having a visible space between the thighs, caused grief to more than one teenager. This trend found a prominent place on Tumblr, Instagram and social media in general, likely triggering many teen girls to diet strenuously, exercise endlessly and basically starve themselves in an attempt to achieve what their bodies may not have been genetically programmed for. As we know, teen girls can be and have been relentless in their desire to both be accepted and to be trendy. Many try to achieve a body type that may be almost impossible for them. Look, to get that thigh gap, one needs to be thin and -- dare I say it -- have wide hips. Not that wide hips are a bad thing. It's just that it has not been acknowledged loudly enough that these sort of hips are part of the recipe for that elusive thigh gap.
As far as I am concerned, as both a clinical psychologist and mother who cares about the physical and mental health of our teen daughters I hated the emphasis on the thigh gap. Other than giving girls the opportunity to achieve something (unnecessary as it is), it deflated the self-esteem of many and triggered more than one or two eating disorders in vulnerable teens. Well, I was hoping the emphasis on this thigh gap concept was dying down only to be informed of its 2014 replacement known as the "bikini bridge." Oh my, oh no, not good. The bikini bridge refers to the space between your bikini and your hip bones that you may get when you are lying flat on your back. This proves nothing more than displaying that you are a dieter and relentless exerciser. Other than that, I see no inherent value in having a space in your bathing suit.
Photos of this bikini bridge are posted on Tumbler and blog sites that teens love to use to post their latest trends and deepest feelings. Tweets about the benefits of the bikini bridge are circulating like crazy, reaching way too many of our vulnerable and self-conscious daughters. I have even read tweets that explain how the space that the bikini bridge is associated is a great place to store phones and tablets. That, I believe, is pushing things a bit too far. There are plenty of other places to store electronic equipment. I am afraid that we will also have a new sort of selfie on hand this year and that will be selfies of girls sucking in their tummies to share a very private part of the body.
What can we do about this trend to try to nip it in the bud? Talk to our girls about the dangers associated with excessive dietary restraint and exercising. Encourage them to develop passions that are unrelated to losing weight. Use a little humor if necessary. Ask them to come up with some more exciting trends and to tweet about those. Let's so everything we can before the next bathing suit season arrives.
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