Does #ThighReading help or hurt body-positivity?

Thanks to the advent of social media, we live in a culture where it’s easier than ever to share parts of our lives with others.  That’s great news for the body-positive movement, which has started using the Twitter hashtag #ThighReading as a way to celebrate realistic, unaltered depictions of women’s bodies.

This trend began after a Twitter user posted a picture of her thighs on Twitter and encouraged others to post pictures of their own using the hashtag #ThighReading. She used the phrase to refer to the stretch marks on her thighs, comparing examining them to reading the lines on one’s palm.

I have some mixed feelings about this hashtag.

I am a huge fan of the basic message behind it; I love how so many people are posting pictures of and talking about their stretch marks. We’re often taught that stretch marks are an indicator of poor health, when in actuality they are extremely normal. People of all shapes and sizes have them for a variety of reasons and they’re absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

I also think it’s wonderful that people of all shapes, sizes, and appearances are using the hashtag. In addition to discussing stretch marks, people are using the hashtag to show off other features on their thighs, such as scars and cellulite. It’s incredibly inspiring to see how the hashtag has empowered others to embrace features that the media often portrays as undesirable or abnormal.


That said, I also can’t help finding it a bit unsettling. I’m a little troubled by the movement encouraging people submit close-up pictures of their thighs and nothing else. In a culture where we’re taught to scrutinize every body part, it feels a bit counterproductive to have people discuss body image in terms of one specific part of their bodies. It’s important to remind girls and women that our bodies are more than a collection of parts — they’re vehicles that enable us to move through and experience our lives.

All in all, I’m glad that the #ThighReading hashtag has had such an empowering affect on girls and women. I just think it’s important to remember that the body-positive movement is about much more than accepting specific body parts. It’s about realizing that our bodies are so much more than what they look like.

Haley Bierman is a recent college graduate working in arts administration. She is extremely passionate about the arts, pop culture, and feminism. She enjoys Netflix, playing her ukulele, and hearing others’ viewpoints about the world we live in.

2 thoughts on “Does #ThighReading help or hurt body-positivity?

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  1. I didn’t know about this hashtag before but agree entirely (would also like to add that I really, really love this blog).

    Personally, i also think that placing too much importance on appearance is directly related to body dissatisfaction.
    Another problem is the polar bear issue: ask someone not to think about a polar bear and BAM a polar bear is all they can think about.
    For example, telling people to cherish their stretch marks also makes them aware that stretch marks are considered unattractive in mainstream society. Body positivity is a great thing on an abstract level but postings are very often mostly about discussions of body hatred in society.

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