Getting mad about #mermaidthighs

So, #mermaidthighs is a thing now. In case you didn’t know, if your thighs touch this means you’ve got mermaid thighs. Unlike #thighgap thighs which have a gap in between, and are – it would seem -last year’s thighs. #mermaidthighs is apparently a glorious new internet movement enabling women of all different shapes and sizes to celebrate their individual beauty, and is therefore, by definition, a Good Thing.

So why, when I read about #mermaidthighs in the Pool this afternoon, did it make me want to throw my phone across the train carriage I was sitting in?

Seriously, I am angry about this. It’s several hours since #mermaidthighs came to my attention and I am still absolutely fuming about it. Maybe I’m just annoyed because it was the Pool – which usually takes quite a feminist stance on things  – which brought the concept to my attention. If I’d seen it in someone’s Daily Mail on the other side of the train carriage, perhaps I could have thought ‘Well it’s the Mail, what do you expect?’ and shrugged it off.  But it was in the Pool, which I was starting to think was a casual-misogyny-free zone. Guess not then.

Do I really have to spell it out? Are we so far gone down the road of judging and categorising women on the basis of what their body parts look like, that we can’t actually see why #mermaidthighs is part of the f***ing problem?

Mermaid. Thighs. Think about it. This is a term that we’re using to describe actual human beings, real individual people. They could be teachers, scientists, accountants, book lovers, musicians or runners. But words like those, well they only apply to the other type of human beings, don’t they? You know, the proper human beings with penises.  Us girls don’t get to use words that refer to our talents or qualifications to describe ourselves. No, we get words like mermaid thighs. Or thigh gap. Or thighbrow. Cankles. Camel toes. Bootybrow. Muffin tops. Bingo wings. Chicken wings. A nice pert ass. Rump. Loin chops. Sirloin steak. Do you see where I’m going with this yet? If not, let me make it crystal clear: terms like mermaid thighs are part of the same problem as the thigh gap. They’re closer in meaning to the words we use to describe pieces of meat than they are to the words which describe male human beings. And they’re dehumanising women, not empowering us.

If any woman reading this is thinking ‘yeah, but it’s nice to feel good about yourself, what’s wrong with a bit of body positivity?’ – I’d just like to say this: even if #mermaidthighs is intended to be an ego boost, your body isn’t you, it’s the shell that you live in. The real you is what we should be celebrating – whether that’s a woman with a career or a full-time mum, someone who likes playing sport or baking cakes, reading books, flying kites, laughing with friends, whatever. If your thighs have helped you get round a half marathon, great, feel proud of how fit and strong they are. But otherwise, as long as your thighs are doing the job of keeping your lower legs connected to the rest of you, seriously,  why not just forget about them? Wouldn’t that actually be even more empowering than #mermaidthighs?





10 thoughts on “Getting mad about #mermaidthighs

  1. “As long as your thighs are doing the job of keeping your lower legs connected to the rest of you, seriously, why not just forget about them?”

    Despite being male, I agree with this. I get a lot of flack myself because I prefer short shorts (even though whatever powers that be have decided men shouldn’t wear them). I take a lot of heat for it but I’m just here like “they’re legs, we all have them, there’s nothing vulgar or otherwise offensive about them.” Seriously.

    Our outer shells aren’t who we are. Our personalities, interests, hobbies, relationships and friendships are who we are. Why don’t we focus on those instead?


    • Exactly! There’s too much focus on our bodies and these arbitrary gender rules about “mens clothing ” and “women’s clothing”. As you say, we should pay more attention to what’s on the inside.


  2. Mermaids don’t have thighs they have tails! Have you ever read The Little Mermaid? The original Hans Christian Anderson tale? When she is given legs she feels like she is walking on knives. It’s a very chilling account of what happens when a woman sacrifices everything to conform to a man’s idea of beauty. And very different to the Disney version where obviously changing your looks to please a man is a Very Good Thing.


    • I have read the Little Mermaid and it was so harrowing that I’ve never wanted to watch the Disney film! As a mother of girls though, I think most Disney films give very dubious messages about the role of women!


  3. I agree with you. I spend my time with my children teaching them the right choices to make to stay strong and healthy so their bodies are able to help them do and become anything they want. I dread the constant pressure from the media having an influence on my son and daughter as I have seen it happen to other family members particularly through adolescence. Any “meat” related hashtags are unhelpful.


    • You’re setting them a great example, exercise should be about fitness and fun rather than looking good. The messages from the media are so powerful, kids just seem to accept them as gospel as they get older. The unwritten rules about your appearance, makeup, body shape etc as you get to high school all stem from the media but they’re echoed back by society too.


  4. I think we are further away from true gender equality, now, than we have been for a long time. Body image is difficult enough for youngsters nowadays without stupidity such as this!

    Britain, during the brief hot spells, makes my blood boil, and I’m not being punny! Why do I have to encounter bare topped men in public places? Why is that OK?

    No sense, or reason in my reply, and it’s not really “on point”. Just that you triggered a little rant.

    I channel hopped past a program recently that had a naked man perusing naked ladies to pick a partner for a date. He was discussing the fact that he preferred a good thigh gap as it enhanced his partners sexual gratification!!!!!! The equality bit in the program was that they had a naked woman picking a female date partner.
    So wrong in all sorts of ways by my standards and, I must hasten to add, I did not linger long!


    • Rant away! Always glad that my ramblings are provoking a reaction of any kind! That tv programme sounds horrendous… I risk sounding very prudish here but what happened to TV’s role of information and education? Long gone it would seem…


  5. A few years back, some social psychologists in the US did a fascinating study of girl’s diaries from the 1950s and the 1990s. They compared the two sets only to find that the girls in the ’50s were writing about improving their academic grades, their virtues (e.g. kindness), and their skills. But the girls in the ’90s were overwhelmingly writing only about going on diets, body image issues and anxieties, and whether the boys liked them. Tragic, actually.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can see this happening myself – girls of my daughters generation seem far more obsessed by body image than we ever were when I was growing up. It’s like we’re going backwards.


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