The Notorious Thigh Gap: Can it Lead to Bulimia?

Does today’s obsession with thigh gap equate to more bulimia and other eating disorders?
It’s a sad day for women when even Wikihow has a post telling women how they can get a thigh gap, but that’s life today unfortunately. I hadn’t even heard the term until a little over a year ago and now it’s everywhere. Considering most women aren’t physically built to have one, why are we seeing this sick obsession?

The media could partially be blamed as they constantly focus on the latest celebrity’s weight gain. The modeling and fashion industries have always been blamed for starving women but really, what is it that makes women accept this and strive towards it? Is it men? Is it our own insecurity, our fears that we don’t measure up to what we see on television, on stage, and in the movies?

Scarier than the obsession with having a thigh gap is the danger that comes from the means undertaken in order to get that coveted look. Women are literally gorging like animals, only to throw the consumed food back up. The National Eating Disorders¬†estimates that in the case of bulimia, the crude mortality rate is nearly 4%. 30 million people, including 20 million women and 10 million men, are thought to suffer from some form of eating disorder throughout their lifetimes. Those are terrifying numbers and when you are constantly bombarded by images of scary skinny people, is it any wonder that those numbers don’t seem to be dropping?

However, eating disorders have been on the rise for decades. There is not any current proof that it’s really gotten any worse than its usual trend recently, but perhaps that is due to the stigma. Many sufferers don’t seek help, and some end up dying due to that fact. Many do get over their issues but the damage to their systems has been done.

There is hope, of course, as there are specific bulimia nervosa treatment like those offered by Rader Programs¬†as well as treatment programs for more generalized eating disorders. Eating disorders affect the mind as well as the body so it’s imperative that a treatment program identifies the underlying cause of the disorder rather than mask it with medications. Therapy is almost always a necessity.

There are cases where a stay at a facility is not needed, especially when early intervention occurs. If you know someone who exhibits the following symptoms, please talk to him or her about what’s going on and reach out to anyone you can:

Rapid weight loss
Excessive focus on food and not eating properly
Continual remarks about being fat and needing to lose weight
Disappearing immediately after meals

Hopefully our culture will start to understand that some of the messages we gleefully broadcast are more harmful than helpful. It’s ok to be thin but it’s also ok not to be, unless you are seriously unhealthy. You can’t always fight genetics. Not all women will grow up to have a tiny waist and small breasts, and that’s just natural. Once we start to see more healthy examples of what adults actually look like, maybe we’ll finally start to see a decline in the number of diagnosed eating disorders.