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From thigh gaps to hot dog legs: memes that make us feel bad about our bodies

By October 7, 2013 One Comment

Sad that summer’s winding down? Me, too. Nah. Actually not. Because the most popular selfies this season were of people’s “hot dog legs” and I’m sick of looking at them.

Legs on the beach.

What are we supposed to be seeing here — hot dogs, legs, or a thigh gap?

You know what I’m talking about (possibly because you’ve posted a few yourself?): the shots of tanned, smooth limbs lounging by the pool or beach or on a rooftop terrace that dominated social media feeds this summer.

IMHO, these snaps (and the social media they’ve inspired on Tumblr and YouTube are troubling, times two.

First, they play into FOMO—the “Fear of Missing Out” or the documented dissatisfaction that can arise from comparing the banality of one’s daily life to the seemingly-fabulous lives of friends that actually only exist on our phones and computers.

But more importantly, the Hot Dog Leg meme seems like a new articulation of last spring’s Thigh Gap craze (which I wrote about here).

Sure, in some instances this trend is just a parody (“Are they legs… or hot dogs? You decide!”), but given that there aren’t (m)any images where the hot dog legs (or dogs) touch, they seem to be another idealization of skinny legs gloriously separated by air.

Legs by a pool.

Full disclaimer: I posted this photo to my Facebook account while on vacation last January. But as it preceded the Hot Dog Legs trend, I totally bungled the pose.

Culturally, we’ve gone batsh*t crazy over this issue.

In our current 2.0 phase, we’ve got everything from gals Instagramming their thigh gap progress to “self-help” articles like “Five Ways to Get a Thigh Gap,” to surgical treatments to give legs that just-Photoshopped look. In sum: it would appear that we have some serious work to do around this issue.

But don’t despair, a backlash is bubbling. The hashtag #NoThighGapNoProblem is blowing up on Twitter, and Tumblrs like The Beauty of Curve are getting girls to send in selfies that show their thighs “kissing.”

Best of all, women without thigh gaps are defiantly continuing to go outside. And smile. And live. And even be on the cover of Sports Illustrated and on hit TV shows. Which is sort of a cause for celebration, no?

Hot dogs for everyone!

Audrey D. Brashich is the author of All Made Up: A Girl’s Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty.