Lucie Hemmen is determined to push back against the thigh gap trend currently spreading across social media. Hemmen, a Santa Cruz, Calif., clinical psychologist, works extensively with teenage girls on body image and self-esteem. She offers these suggestions to counter “thinspiration” and thigh gap concerns:
1. Encourage athletics. Hemmen says girl athletes are somewhat inoculated against the media’s too skinny messages. “Sports keep them focused and confident,” she said.
2. Focus on celebrities who defy the status quo image of beauty. “I’m so glad there are women like Beyonce and Adele out there,” Hemmen said. “They are beautiful and strong and represent real women.”
3. Mothers, aunts and other adult women need to recognize that they are powerful role models. You may think your daughters don’t listen to you, but they do. “If you are always on a diet or complaining about your body, you are sending your daughter a message,” she said. “You must speak lovingly and acceptingly of your bodies and of others’ bodies.”
4. Help someone with an eating disorder. “Eating disorders are highly communicable,” Hemmen said. “If a girl who’s 98 pounds is hating on her body and saying how fat she is, then her entire friend group feels the effects of that.”