'Legging legs' is a new trend, but it has been accused of glorifying thinness


The "legging legs" phenomenon is gaining ground on social networks, promoting an ideal of slimness that can be harmful to both physical and mental well-being. Photo: AFP

Just when you think progress has been made in banishing the cult of thinness, it comes back at full speed!

While promoting and encouraging physical exercise can be a positive trend on social media, there are some extreme examples which consist of showcasing so-called "perfect bodies", which can have detrimental effects on our mental health.

Although these types of content may be connected, it's important to differentiate the objectives of it – the content that promotes benefits to overall health as opposed to that which elevates an ideal of beauty that can be harmful for health.

Eating disorders, lowered self-esteem and increased anxiety levels are a few of the consequences of the glorification of extreme thinness.

And despite significant societal advances when it comes to body positivity – embracing all kinds of bodies – this cult of thinness still holds sway in many areas.

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Challenges that promote "slimming down"

The latest example from the world of social media is "legging legs", although there's actually nothing new about this trend.

It's yet another variation on the famous "thigh gap" obsession that comes and goes with the seasons, idealising firm, shapely, thin thighs.

Every year, or just about, a new challenge invites women – because that's essentially the target audience – to gauge whether the shape of their thighs form the gap that would give them what "thinspiration" types describe as perfect proportions.

A few years ago, it was all about standing up straight, feet together, to show off that coveted gap for all to see, then the challenge was extended to a lying down version, at the beach, again to show off that "gap" between the thighs.

This beauty "ideal" has also seen the emergence of a counter-trend, with "mermaid thighs", supposed to encourage people to embrace the absence of a gap between their thighs, popularised in 2016 in an attempt to put an end to this form of body shaming.

These challenges can have a doubly detrimental effect by pushing young girls and women to slim down at all costs, as well as ostracising anyone who doesn't fit into society's ideal.

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One challenge too far?

The "legging legs" trend differs little from all those challenges of the past.

On social networks, particularly TikTok, multiple videos show women, sometimes very young, slipping into leggings and showing off the gap that appears between their thighs.

But they don't just show off their bodies, they also extol the virtues of the "thigh gap", explaining loud and clear that this constitutes the "perfect" silhouette – or the perfect legs – for wearing leggings.

What's implied by this has not gone unnoticed: those individuals who wear leggings, but don't have a thigh gap, should find something else to wear.

"Legging legs" posts have rapidly gained momentum on the Chinese social network, with the associated hashtag already garnering almost 50 million views.

But it's worth pointing out that the majority of videos posted under these terms are not encouraging viewers to cultivate a "thigh gap" – quite the contrary.

While a handful of users still see the thigh gap as an ideal of beauty, most of those posting have spoken out against this beauty "ideal".

Among them are several health professionals who remind us that the "thigh gap" is not synonymous with a slim, athletic or healthy body, but the result of genetic predispositions, particularly in terms of bone structure.

As for several other TikTokers, they are simply rejecting "legging legs" en masse, showing a certain exasperation, if not anger, at these videos that constantly praise the same ideal of beauty.

On her TikTok account, therapist Holly Essler explains: "Don't let social networks tell your body that this is a trend. If you have a body and you have leggings, you have legging legs. Wear the leggings, be proud, be confident, you have legging legs."

In a video viewed almost two million times, user Mik Zazon added: "These trends have got to stop!

"Social media is so freaking harmful and toxic, there are young girls right now who think they can't wear a wardrobe essential that is comfortable, that can be paired with so many different things, because they don't have a thigh gap!"

All these reactions suggest that, while these challenges and trends linked to the cult of thinness persist, users are challenging them and calling them into question, and even fighting against their damaging effects on the physical and mental health of young women. – AFP Relaxnews

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fashion , trends , body positivity


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