Hopping On My Soap Box

I’ll get off my soap box and be back to normal posts on Monday! 

I seriously cannot deal with this

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I wish it was a joke, but it’s not. For about $1,000 you can have a cold laser therapy procedure done to zap a layer of fat on your thighs in an attempt to create the glorious thigh gap that fashion bloggers (and plenty of running bloggers) and their readers are obsessed with.

Personally, the only real benefit I see to this is a decrease in the likelihood that I’ll chafe in my running shorts.

I mean, I subscribe to the philosophy that people should do whatever they want with their bodies, but this is kind of silly. I guess 10 years down the line it will be considered normal along the lines of breast enhancements (aka boob jobs) and butt implants.

Wait, are butt implants normal? Or do I just think they are because I seriously consider getting them every time I sit in a hard seat?

In thinking about the thigh gap and the way that social media/blogs can influence the female standard of beauty, particularly with young women and teens, I couldn’t help but think back to my own impressionable days.

In my middle school and high school years Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson graced the covers of every glossy magazine.

Now, I consider myself to be a smart person and think I was even back then. I was a (mostly) straight-A student (stupid math classes), honor society member, on the academic team, etc. Basically I was a nerd but I had a shopping habit which meant I usually dressed nice. Not that nerds don’t dress nice… I digress.

I was hardcore Team Britney and pretty much idolized her and her stomach. I thought that by simply eating less food I could achieve what she had. In hindsight, she obviously worked out very hard for that stomach, but at the time I didn’t consider that at all because no one in my family really thought too much about going to the gym.

The other night I spiraled down a rabbit hole on YouTube watching old music videos. In the “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” video Britney’s body is just ridiculous. I wish she had talked more about her workouts so that young girls, like myself, would be inspired to get fit instead of just skinny.

I believe at the time Britney said she weighed something like 125lbs, and I can assure you neither at 125 nor any weight lower did I ever have a stomach that looked like hers through my restrictive diet.

While I was spiraling down the music video rabbit hole I came across Jessica Simpsons, “The Sweetest Sin” video and couldn’t help but notice that it’s basically softcore porn for teens (in the mostly pre-Internet era)! At the time I was in love with Justin Timberlake, but today I can appreciate all that is Nick Lachey’s body. Whoa.  I digress again! Damn you Nick Lachey, I shake my first at you for getting me off track!

In thinking about my own experience with Britney and wishing she had talked about her fitness routine, I can’t help but wonder what responsibility bloggers have to disclose the truth about how they achieve their look.

Obviously as a running blogger I talk about my workouts a lot, as one would expect. Most running and fitness bloggers do, it’s just the nature of the business. But what about fashion and lifestyle bloggers?

There is one lifestyle blogger in particular that I like to read every once in a while: the Londoner. Rosie at the Londoner has legs for days that many women seem to envy — including the thigh gap.

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(Image Credit: the Londoner)

The Londoner has readers of all ages, but judging by her comments section, a lot of them are younger. I’ve seen comments in the past where readers have said that everyone in their middle or high school loves reading her blog and want to look like her, travel like her, shop like her, be like her. This is very similar to how I felt about Britney in my younger days.

Rosie never blogs about her workout regime, and constantly posts pictures of delicious looking and often fatty foods that she supposedly eats. While I respect that she can do whatever she damn well pleases on her own blog, it might be nice to casually mention every once in a while that she hits the gym or goes for a run… provided that she does. I understand that some women are naturally slim, but Rosie’s older pictures suggest that this is not the case for her. I’m not body shaming Rosie, I’m just using it to make a point.

I don’t mean to pick on The Londoner specifically since I do enjoy her blog, it’s just one that comes to mind since I don’t read a lot of lifestyle or fashion blogs.

In the same vein, I think bloggers should carefully consider how much they use photoshop on their own pictures. As a reader I love the beautiful photographs that many bloggers post, and am conscious of the fact that many times part of the photos will be enhanced. Between lighting and color correction, it just is what it is and I appreciate it.

However, I have come to understand that some bloggers will also photoshop themselves the way magazine covers or brands will edit a model’s looks — you know, enhanced cheekbones, thinner waistline, thigh gap. I find that to be incredibly frustrating because I love blogs that are authentic and authenticity begins with the blogger. To some extent, I think it is owed to the reader, particularly when it comes to lifestyle and fitness blogs.

And just to get back to the thigh gap for one last soap-box-esque moment: it’s just not possible for many women to achieve this naturally. Women who possess the thigh gap have the correct hip bone structure for this look.

“No dieting or fitness regimen is going to change your bone structure. You can’t control your hip size” says Polly De Mille, an exercise physiologist in NYC. Vonda Wright, MD, adds “unless you’re genetically wide-hipped, you shouldn’t have a gap.”

I’m personally skeptical that even the cold laser procedure can give you a thigh gap since it simply removes a layer of fat from the inner thigh. At my very lowest weight I would have needed to stand at just the right angle and position my legs just so in order to achieve the thigh gap look temporarily for a picture.

If you’re in the mood for a laugh, check out the You Did Not Eat That instagram account. It shares pictures from thigh-gappy bloggers that are constantly taking selfies with food.

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Now, quite frankly, after a long run I KNOW how much I am capable of eating… more than likely every single cookie in that box and then some. However, the account was started because the owner, who works in the fashion industry, noticed an interesting trend:

“A month ago I saw dozens of bloggers swarming a dessert table, taking pictures and spending five minutes merchandizing the sunglasses next to the macaroons. Then they walked away and nothing was eaten. It was so contrived!”

Well, I guess you can’t have a thigh gap if you eat a box of cookies. Or, you know, if you don’t have the right bone structure.

I would never place the blame on bloggers (or celebrities) for making anyone act in a specific way, but there’s no doubt in my mind that they help influence and shape the way we think.

What is your opinion? Do bloggers have a responsibility to be authentic with their readers? Or disclose that the blog is fictional in some way if not?

(For additional reading, check out Ali’s post, “When I had a thigh gap.“)

11 comments

  1. dawn @ running the dawn

    preach on sister.

    i love britney as well. i’d never thought about how impactful it would have been to know how hard she had to work to look like that.

    i also follow a few “fashion” blogs too, and i totally agree! i’d love to hear more about what they do to stay in shape.
    dawn @ running the dawn recently posted…simple answersMy Profile

  2. Kim

    I think that you nailed it when you said you wish people would put the emphasis on fit not skinny!!!
    And, I 100% think that bloggers should be completely truthful with their readers!!!
    Kim recently posted…Back to Work!!! (5/18-5/24)My Profile

  3. Karen

    Britney was as good as it gets back then and she had age on her side. I love a strong fit look and I do like to hear what people do to maintain that for real! I hate when people tell you they hardly work out all lol that’s crazy…I remember watching a special years ago on a beautiful VS model and she didn’t eat much. They followed her for a two day shoot and she didn’t eat at all until after the shoot no matter how long it took and then she only ate fish and vegetables. I remembered she said during working periods she only ate once a day like that and just had fruit if she needed it when she woke and as a late snack. At least she was honest…I guess if someone paid me enough I could do it to for awhile lol I always wonder how hard everyone is working too.
    Karen recently posted…Not My Best Run DayMy Profile

  4. Meg Go Run

    Very good post, Kristina. I don’t understand the thigh gap thing. I think people with thigh gaps look bow legged but that’s just mean! As for authenticity… I think readers see through blogger’s phoniness. If I get a phoney feel from a blog, I do NOT read it! The most photo shopping I have ever done to one of my blog pictures (and I only did it once) was changed the lighting so my skin didn’t look as broken out as it was!

    Does Cecil have a thigh gap?
    Meg Go Run recently posted…Finally caught up on sleep!My Profile

  5. Dana

    I definitely think it’d be nice if bloggers disclose things sometimes, especially if they have a large audience. Such as how HRG talks about how she does indulge in junk food, but she eats pretty healthy too, and of course she runs like crazy. Although, I think that instagram account isn’t the best. The girl in that picture could work out really hard/eat healthy most of the time, hence why her legs are so thin, and she could have had a couple of cookies and that Starbucks drink, and it’s not like she should have to disclose how she normally eats/her workouts. It’d be cool for a feature post, but it’s not cool to scrutinize people for posting a picture like that.

  6. Lou @ Running Through China

    Haha, love it – they SHOULD label their blogs/websites as fiction if they’ve photoshopped the photos! I’m shocked! I never thought bloggers would (or could?) photoshop their photos in the same way that magazines do. (But them I’m a bit behind the times with the technology over here.)

    Your post is spot on. Please do stay on the soap box! Arrghh, so now it’s not just ‘The Gap’ that we women are supposed to have at the top of the thighs when bending over, but now there is supposed to be a thigh gap all the way along?? I give up with ever trying to keep up with the latest ‘body fad’ or quirk that mainstream media (and other websites) decide is the new trend, and usually unattainable for most and just for the purpose of selling stuff or distracting us.

    I don’t read any fashion blogs (as you could maybe tell by my choice of ‘comfy’ clothes in shots haha) but I will be checking out The Londoner, if only coz I miss my hometown, so thanks!

    On a serious note, you are spot on re: the damage those photoshopped photos, websites and claims of eating ‘whatever they want’ while remaining ridiculously skinny, can do to younger, more impressionable girls AND boys. I am yet to find people who DIDN’T have some kind of restricted eating/fad diet phase as a teenager, and boy, don’t get me started on those horrendous, vile pro-anorexia websites (yep, you read that right). Oh yes, and don’t get me started on music videos today and their not so subtle porn overtones, and these are aimed at kids??

    Great post Kristina!

  7. Ali @ Hit the Ground Running

    You make a great point about lifestyle bloggers who focus on shopping, eating, and socializing, but rarely discuss their fitness routine. I stopped following the Londoner a long time ago because I found her blog totally unrelatable and her lifestyle unattainable. One thing I prefer in blogs I read is a blogger who I can see myself identifying with and being friends with. That includes showing the hard side of life sometimes, and definitely the workouts, etc.

    Thanks for linking to my blog :o) You know we’re on the same page as far as thigh gaps go!
    Ali @ Hit the Ground Running recently posted…The Best GoodbyeMy Profile

  8. Thankful for a Good Book (or two) and Great Friends! | Now I Run

    […] Kristina commented that I should read “Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness” by Scott Jurek so I picked that up at the library today. I look forward to diving in as soon as I finish “The Book Theif“! […]

  9. Stephanie@nowirun.com

    I have to say, I am completely ignorant of the thigh gap thing being a “thing.”
    Yikes!
    I posted a picture of an ice cream cake that I made the other day… I didn’t have as big of a piece as I cut for others but I did eat a piece. In all honesty I don’t know if I’ve ever taken a picture of a savory item implying I ate it when I didn’t ~ but I think it’s a good authenticity-check for me! Thanks for bringing some of this to the front of my mind instead of the back where it has been hiding out for awhile. 🙂
    Stephanie@nowirun.com recently posted…Thankful for a Good Book (or two) and Great Friends!My Profile

  10. Cori @ She's Going the Distance

    I like your soapbox! And honestly those bloggers can do whatever they please, it’s their environment so they can choose to “omit” the reason they post what they post, eat or their fitness routine. I think it’s up to the readers to have some common sense when it comes to the people they look up to. I’m really picky with blogs I read because I need positive role models, ones who eat and workout properly.

    I’m old enough, and went through my Britney–restrict your diet for flat abs days–and i wish my mom or someone around me just told me she worked hard in the gym for that stuff. I feel like bloggers or online socialites should realize they probably have a young audience and can be a big influence and be more responsible in their postings for sure. That I can agree with.

  11. Lucy

    It’s weird, because bloggers originally found a niche as being a more authentic voice than magazines. But now, magazines are much more ethical than bloggers and more likely to disclose. It’s a bit sad that photoshopping images leads to commercial success, but I guess it’s all aspirational.

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