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Why #ThighReading Matters

By Angela Hui--Earlier this summer, thousands of women began posting photos of their thighs to Twitter with the hashtag #ThighReading, forming a vast mosaic of thighs of all sizes, textures, and colors.

As #ThighReading – meant to be a play on palm reading – started trending on Twitter, countless news outlets from BuzzFeed to the BBC covered the trend, describing it as “part of the body positivity movement online” and a celebration of stretch marks, cellulite, scars, bruises, and other perceived imperfections. The movement was praised for encouraging women to embrace their bodies and helping people understand that not all thighs fit into the slim, smooth, spotless societal ideal that is possessed naturally by few while somehow remaining ubiquitous in mass media.

However, many online cynics seemed to believe that the #ThighReading movement is frivolous and unnecessary, perhaps even counterproductive in promoting body positivity. Commentators scoffed at the hashtag, claiming that the movement somehow cultivated self-hatred by encouraging women to share photos of their thighs instead of keeping them hidden. Others complained that the movement was anti-feminist in that it objectified women by reducing them to their body parts.

These critics were missing the point of #ThighReading. Those who post photos of their thighs do so voluntarily to show appreciation for their own bodies regardless of whether they conform to society’s Photoshopped standards. We know that we are more than just our body parts, our corporeal flesh vessels, but loving ourselves means loving all of our parts. The purpose of #ThighReading is to show that the marks on our thighs are as normal as the lines on our palms – and they are! For instance, many doctors consider cellulite a female secondary sex characteristic, just like breasts. We wouldn’t be ashamed of the various creases and folds that a palm reader might see, so why not appreciate – or at least feel neutral about – the marks on our thighs the same way?

Of course, there is nothing wrong with having thighs that conform to societal standards, but the problem is that media representation of bodies, especially female bodies, is vastly different from what most women have. Seeing nothing but supermodels’ legs everywhere can make one believe that those rare body types are the norm, leading to the internalized self loathing and low self esteem that are endemic in our society and feed into the pockets of diet and weight loss conglomerates worldwide. #ThighReading was an opportunity to see just what a broad range of appearances “normal” can encompass.

And even if your thighs aren’t like other people’s, #ThighReading is meant to let you embrace your body just the way it is. The bumps and marks on your thighs are part of what makes you uniquely you. Those ridges and pits tell part of your story, more so than the wrinkles on your palms could ever fathom. Your scars are reminders of your survivorship, your stretch marks badges of growth and change. Chances are you’re not the only one with marks like yours, and even if you are – you’re beautiful. More importantly, you’re you.

About this blogger: Angela Hui is a senior at San Francisco University High School. She previously attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. In her spare time, she enjoys helping others recover from their eating disorders and promoting positive body image as a moderator at EDRecoveryProbs.com

More by Angela:

Healthy Body, Sick Mind

Image courtesy of The Debrief

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

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