Tumblr is a fascinating forum to watch the progression of different trends, whether surrounding distribution fashion or culture in general.  More recently, tumblr has been critiqued as a forum that enables the manifestation and distribution of unhealthy body standards. Tumblr accounts can have hundreds of thousands of followers, and furthermore have huge impacts on the malleable body images of young followers. A relatively recent fad that was popular on tumblr within the past year was the idea of having a “thigh gap,”” meaning that young girls would set a goal for their body weights centered around the idea that if their thighs touched when their feet touched, they were too fat. A seemingly unrealistic goal was made perfectly feasible when searched on tumblr; a home for thousands of images of malnourished models with impossibly skinny legs. Tumblr as a company was criticized for the amount of pervasively unhealthy images that were being distributed to malleable youth across the world, rightfully so, even if it was the content that was flawed and unhealthy, not the medium per say.

I thought this issue of medium versus content was relatively interesting, and I was curious to see if tumblr did anything to address this important issue that had tangible consequences. Here is what I found when I searched “thigh gap” on tumblr. Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 5.27.02 PM

It really isn’t much in the big picture, for unhealthy images are still circulated quite often on tumblr, but I still found this to be a step in the right direction on the part of the company. It is important for them to address that some of the content on their site is unhealthy, even if they can’t ban it or regulate more formally, necessarily. I found this to be a particularly fascinating move on tumblr’s part, and was wondering what other’s thought about the effectiveness about this installment on their website.

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4 responses »

  1. hannahmwebster says:

    Your post is interesting. I remember an experience I had last year when two senior girls who were my managers at work brought up the phenomenon of the “thigh gap” and how it was circulating around the net. After four years at Scripps, they had developed a strong sense of themselves and were happy with their bodies. They were merely bringing up the topic for discussion and critique. While they were discussing how unrealistic it is to romanticize being skinny especially since we all have unique body types that are ever-changing, I was studying the reactions of those in the conversation and those listening. It seemed as though some people ‘bashing’ the ‘ideal look’ were also contemplating how it would feel to have that body type that allowed for wider hips and a natural “thigh gap.” I think the sense I got was that even those who had learned to love their natural selves are still and simultaneously fighting the urge to conform to pressures they’ve been socialized to adopt as defining “beauty” or “femininity” or even the idea of a (nonexistent) image of “perfection.”

    I think Tumblr and other websites that ban the hashtag “thigh gap” or “thinspiration” are right in doing so. While we are all allowed to voice our opinions, thoughts and aspirations, we are, in my opinion, given the capacity to question and challenge these notions, ideals, ideologies for a reason: By putting a commonly held standard, of body image for example, up for discussion, we deconstruct image incentives that often lead to self-hatred, harm, and bullying of others.

    But calling out media campaigns is not enough, we also have to change the way we operate as consumers. We can’t protest the incentives to be thin and make a difference if we are buying products from companies that sell one-size-fits-all clothing, which is really “One Size Fits All [Who Are Super Thin]” –Brandy Mellville is an example of a company that has been put in the media spotlight for its retail strategy.

  2. This is so interesting, because as much as Tumblr probably enables viral-ization of “thigh-gap” imagery or whatever else, there is also a HUGE culture of body positivity on there. One of my friends from back home who is an artist and designer blogs here at https://www.tumblr.com/dashboard and always posts a bunch of viral. genius memes about body positivity etc

  3. revandrewwright says:

    This is a really interesting step for tumblr, especially considering that their business is based around people finding what they want to when they search. I’m hesitant to call it revolutionary for two reasons:
    1.) No matter how great it is, this is still a calculated way to increase their appeal (after all, we’re talking about the site right now.)
    2.) Not to be too cynical or awful, but there is a slippery slope to how media content providers limit what we see. I’m thrilled to see that you can click through, but what about when you won’t be able to?

    Overall, I’m just being cynical. Personally, I think that move is huge in a great direction and has more things right about it then wrong, but if I don’t trouble it then what can we discuss?

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