It's the latest weight loss craze among American teens striving to emulate the models they see in magazines: the "thigh gap", in which slender legs, when standing with feet together, do not touch.
Experts say the cost of what teens see as an ideal body shape -- but really is for most unattainable -- is self-esteem problems that can lead to eating disorders, depression and even suicide.
On Tumblr, Pinterest and Facebook, "thigh gap" photos abound: close-ups of sometimes unbearably skinny legs published by young girls eager to show off their success -- or bemoan what they see as a failure to whittle away fat.
"Together we can be a size zero with a beautiful thigh gap and flat stomach. Together we can be happy and finally say that we love our bodies," Tumbler user skinnysizezero pledges.
Clinical psychologist Barbara Greenberg warned that for most women, the "thigh gap" is a pipe dream, even via extreme dieting and exercise. "Most women are not built that way to have that space between their thighs," she said. "It is a matter of bone structure," she explained, which "the majority of women do not have."
For teenagers, adopting what Greenberg called an "unrealistic obsession" can be dangerous -- increasing pressures that can lead to depression, even suicidal behavior, as well as to severe eating disorders, which can cause lasting brain and bone damage.
Source: Business Insider