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The moment we all feared is here: the return of the Thigh Gap

Leggings legs on TikTok are becoming an issue

The moment we all feared is here: the return of the Thigh Gap Leggings legs on TikTok are becoming an issue

Imagine this: It’s 2012, you’re wearing your usual flannel button-down with combat boots, and you’ve been listening to emo alt-rock music, drinking an iced coffee, and scrolling on Tumblr. You stop scrolling and see an image of a woman standing up straight. There is nothing abnormal about the image except that the woman is impossibly skinny, and while she stands up straight, there is a significant gap between her thighs. She’s so thin her thighs don’t touch from the top of her legs down to her feet. You keep scrolling and notice the photo reshared repeatedly, with other women striking the same pose with similar bodies, and you see images of people bending slightly as they pose to show off their legs, displaying the gap between them proudly. This began the Tumblr-era Thigh Gap phenomenon, a body trend that has haunted Millenials and older Gen Z for over a decade and is currently history being repeated. 

Where Thig Gap Originates

The Thigh Gap was the pinnacle of beauty. You were considered to have a “good body” if your thighs didn’t touch when you stood or walked, and the larger the gap was, the better. For most women, this was an incredibly dark time where we were pushed to drastic extremes to try and achieve the “perfect body.” Remember, this was a time when women recited the infamous Kate Moss quote, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” as if it was their religious doctrine. This is a generation that’s been scarred by the negative side effects of body trends, mainly by the development of eating disorders and has lived to share their wisdom with the younger generation. 

The return of Leggings Legs on TikTok

@katharinadrw I am literally scared #bodytrends #bodyimage #mentalhealth #recovery #beautystandardsarefake emma uncomfortable laugh - cuppy

Recently, the Thigh Gap has reared its ugly head yet again, although this time it’s taken on a different name — Leggings Legs. If you’ve not seen the TikTok yet of a young girl crying because she doesn’t have “leggings legs,” here’s the deal. Leggings legs is the modern version of the 2012 Thigh Gap phenomenon. In essence, it’s yet another body trend, much like Heroin Chic, that taps into deep-seated insecurities of young women. Specifically, the leggings legs trend says that if you are to wear leggings, your legs should look a certain way — mainly by not touching and having a thigh gap.  

The Countertrend and TikTok's "No"

@janedoe0018 original sound - No Name Jane

The recent explosion around leggings legs has prompted a severe backlash, with TikTok even removing the search term after racking up more than 33 Million views for the safety and well-being of the online community. Hundreds of older women who lived through the Thigh Gap era have come out in strong opposition to the trend, encouraging girls to love their bodies as they are rather than falling prey to what can have lasting psychological ramifications. 

The Issue with Leggings Legs


original sound - aideenkate

In a study done in 2022, found in the National Library of Medicine, on the admissions rates of patients with anorexia nervosa into hospitals across the European Union, there’s a steady uptick in the number of young women affected by eating disorders year after year. The study states that since the COVID-19 lockdowns, there’s been an even more drastic increase in admissions, citing social media as a potential cause.

How to Avoid Falling into the Body-Related Trend Trap


We are not doing this.

original sound - Mik Zazon

We’re heavily affected by what we consume online, which is why when older women saw the toxicity of the leggings legs trend, they immediately took action, making videos that call out the body trend for what it is — a dangerous trap that preys on women’s insecurities. Mik Zazon took to TikTok to express her frustration with the new trend, stating, “Our sole purpose in life is not to fit into clothes, and is not to fit into whatever current beauty standard that’s ‘in’ right now. [Especially] because they change every couple of weeks, if not weekly.”

@katharinadrw Let them thighs touch!!!! #beautystandardsarefake #fake #bodyimage #mentalhealthmatters original sound - _estitek - ~

Zazon is right. Body trends come and go faster than our bodies have time to adapt, and shouldn’t be an indicator of someone’s worth. Worth and inherent beauty aren’t defined by societal standards, even though that’s what society would have you think — they’re intrinsically defined by you for yourself. So, when the world is projecting onto you what your next insecurity should be, remember that you’re not defined by what “society” thinks. If we’ve learned anything from the Thigh Gap era, it’s that body trends like leggings legs are psychologically and physically damaging, and if not stopped and addressed early on, can create lasting negative side effects.