Basically, I don’t even know where to begin in expressing my frustration, anger and panic in dealing with the new standards of the “perfect skinny”. It’s not enough to “just” be thin anymore (as if that wasn’t tormenting and obsessive already); apparently there is a new “improved” way at achieving the perfect body!
As women, we can consider ourselves arrived at perfection if we now possess the ever so sought after “thigh gap”, and the enticing “bikini bridge”. I, only just learned about this from a television segment, but in case you don’t know, allow me to get you acquainted with the meaning of these two terms.
According to an internet definition a “thigh gap” is “the gap between the thighs when standing with the back upright and the left and right knees touching each other”. It is a craze now among young women and teenagers to achieve this nonsensical thigh gap as if their lives depend on it. They falsely perceive this thigh gap as the only way to have attractive thighs and legs. As a result they submit themselves to all kinds of diets, all juicing diets, starving diets, stupid diets, just to achieve this blasted thigh gap!
Now, let me introduce you to the latest upgrade: “the bikini bridge”. Andrea Park wrote in the article “Is The ‘Bikini bridge” The New “Thigh Gap”?” that models and actresses that did not possess thigh gaps and bikini bridges were labelled as fat! In case your teenager hasn’t already enlightened you with this new dangerous trend, this is what it means: “a bikini bridge is basically the bridge, the space that forms when a bikini bottom suspends across a woman hip bones, better seen when laying down, thus creating a bridge with space underneath revealing a strong flat stomach and a perfect bridge that connects to the hip bones” (internet definition).
I got a massive headache just trying to understand this convoluted and exhaustive assertion. As women, and as parents to daughters, we must do something about this. As it is, life is challenging enough to mold proper characters, to be good, kind, sincere, loving, generous, and helpful, ignore peer pressure, be compassionate, modest and so forth…Now I have to worry about my daughter listening to this inanity, and pray that she won’t be influenced.
Personally, as a forty-one year old woman, who exercises fairly regularly and eats healthy, I do not possess either a thigh gap or bikini bridge, nor have I ever possessed any such thing. We all have different genetic makeup and it’s meant like that by God probably for the sake of beautiful variety.
Psalms 139:13 assures us, “You made all the delicate inner parts of my body, and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me wonderfully complex, your workmanship is marvelous, and how well I know it”. I know for a fact that God did not make a mistake in giving some of us thigh gaps and to some bikini bridges and only to the very special of us both of these!
We are who we are and let’s pray that we accept and love our bodies and our young girls do the same. It is absolutely preposterous that our daughters have to assault their intellect with such frivolous concerns. WHO CARES!! I realize it’s easy to say that, when perhaps your child is actually suffering from not possessing these contrived, self-imposed characteristics, but that is why this is a major issue in our society today.
It is incredibly difficult to shelter our teens and ourselves for that matter, from the incessant exposure and inundation of the media which is obsessed with auctioning outward beauty in an unrealistic and skewed way. There are endless commercials exposing a litany of diets and ways to ensure ourselves skinny and fit and ready to be adored and secretly envied by those who don’t have enough “will” and self-discipline to survive and conquer this obsolete, insatiable, exhausting race to achieving the “perfect” body.
1 Peter 3:3 instructs us, “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within…” I agree that is hard to convince my eight year old of this biblical truth, but when she is looking in the mirror examining herself, I assure her that she is made in God’s image and perfect just the way she is. She is unfortunately using the word “fat” to describe her skinny legs and thighs. My heart cringes and bleeds with despair, as panic surges and I chastise myself as a parent: “How could I let this happen! Where, when, how, why, from whom is she learning this falsehood?!!” Why does it occur to her to even think of her body image so young? Are other girls are school doing the same, am I to blame? Am I using the word “fat” to bully myself when I am not aware of it?
Possibly, because I too am caught in the wicked current of self-criticism when involved in conversation with my women friends, referring to our beloved bodies in ways God would disapprove of, while my young daughter with innocent ears is playing nearby…And who in the world decided that thigh gaps are perfect while a little flesh is undesirable…Why are these topics making the top list of what’s trending today…Have we become so infantile, so far removed from what’s wholesome, important and worthwhile to preoccupy ourselves with…When I was a young girl breast size was definitely a topic of discussion, but now since we are able to adjust that, are we supposed to have flesh removed to reveal a gap? It is absurd to even address this as discourse, but apparently I have no choice but alarm myself with these worries for the sake of my daughter, our daughters…
So then, what are we to do to equip our girls with healthy body images and expectations, and with non-volatile wisdom to resist falling prey to dangerous stigmas like “bikini bridge” and “thigh gap” or who knows what other vacuous, and obtuse body referrals…1 Samuel instructs us, “Do not consider his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” This is the foundation we must assure our girls of. When my daughter was an adorable toddler, the first thing I would marvel at was her beauty, like any subjective mother would, but lately I focus more on praising her for inner beauty. I look for any opportunity to commend her for being kind, giving, considerate, loving and compassionate. I call her “my solution finder”, because she loves to solve problems, and her face lights up at her nickname! I also limited television watching to an hour a day, no commercials allowed, no popular magazine exposure with unrealistic, airbrushed bodies of models and celebrities.
I am not trying to necessarily shelter my girl from the reality of our society, but to teach her to occupy her thoughts with meaningful and Godly interests. We will always be the best at what we do the most, so if she concerns herself with wholesome, healthy focuses, the she will continually absorb nutritious, virtuous qualities, and hopefully not give foolish body topics any worth. She, then, can find acceptance and identity in what Jesus has to say about her: “And the very hairs on your head are numbered, So don’t be afraid, you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows” Luke 12:1.
It may seem extreme to tackle at this in so much depth but idealistic expectations on body image can be very damaging for our girls, causing them to suffer and succumb to the perils of anorexia, bulimia, and emotionally assaulting diseases like depression, and ultimately acquire an abnormal, harmful view of themselves and their beautiful God-tailored bodies. God does not expect us to eat unhealthy processed foods and become overweight, but instead to treat our bodies as a temple and honor Him with it by staying healthy whatever it takes.
As parents we can role model regular exercise, embrace outdoor activities and go swimming, fishing or running together. Many of my friends run tame marathons and triathlons with their kids, thus teaching them to stay active. Any local YMCA can help with that. We can keep our kids off screen time, by giving house chores promoting responsibility, and self-discipline. They can also volunteer through church, go on mission trips to help others, tutor other kids, and be part of youth groups and bible studies. When our son became a tutor for an afterschool program for underprivileged children, he started to pray regularly for those he met with compassion and was eager to serve some more.
God gave us a beautiful, precious and challenging existence, and also the Holy Spirit and the Bible to sustain and guide us as individuals, children, parents, as human beings. Our daughters and sons deserve the very best of our attention, guidance and protection from the temptations of this world, so we must impress on them from an young age how and where to find their beauty and true worth: “Then, we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men and their deceitful scheming”.
Ephesians 4:14. Our youth should have these verses stamped on their hearts as a pure mountain spring from where Heavenly truth stems forth: “Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is great worth in God’s sight.” 1Peter 3:4.
By Roxana Phillip-Hackett
Roxana is a wife of one, mother of two, who loves to share her faith with sincerity and honesty from her home in Hendersonville Tennessee.