Should Your Thighs Touch?

There’s a lot of talk out there about Chip Wilson, the CEO of Lululemon, defending his pants pilling. Here at our Fuse Pilates DC studio, we’ve been talking about it, too. Recently, he said that if a woman’s thighs didn’t rub, the pants wouldn’t pill. Therefore, it’s the woman’s thighs being inappropriately sized for the pants that are the problem. Meaning, his pants don’t pill under “normal circumstances.” It's not a problem with the manufacturing. It's not an issue with the fabric. It’s his customers’ big thighs that cause the destruction of his $90 pants. In addition to this being insulting, it’s also problematic for several reasons. Apparently, it’s now a “thing” for women and girls to want a "thigh gap." It’s a goal – sort of like graduating from college or getting a great job, except that this goal is really effing stupid. Unobtainable aesthetic goals are a product of false advertising and its use of overly thin models. But we all already knew that, right? So did you know that it’s anatomically inaccurate to believe a woman’s thighs shouldn’t touch? The goal should be proper leg alignment, and in that alignment, almost everyone’s thighs will touch. Let’s discuss. I’ll be the example. My thighs don’t touch.
Pilates DC

There are my thighs - not touching. 'Cause I'm a little bow legged and all....

My thighs don’t touch, not because I’m skinny, but because I’m a little bow legged. That’s actually a structural flaw away from the ideal. Its official name is genu varum, which definitely sounds like something you don’t want to have. If you stand up with your feet together (all zipped up – big toes and ankles touching), then the top of your thighs, as well as your knees, calves and inside ankle bones should touch. Stand up and see if that’s true. For me, my knees don’t touch, which means the majority of my inner thigh musculature doesn’t either. Now reread the above paragraph about ideal alignment. Do I have ideal alignment? Nope. Also, my ankles don’t “lightly touch” as is the goal; my ankles smash together. That’s because I have pronated ankles – another problem (hey, let’s make neutral foot the “next big thing”). So, since those knees aren’t touching and the ankle bones are touching too much, what does that mean? Does that mean I can be safely approved to wear Wunder Unders without chub rub? Nope. It means that I’m prone to knee injury and getting osteoarthritis at some point in my life. Should that be your goal? I think we can all agree that the answer is “no,” and there’s nothing actually wrong with our thighs. Also, my pants are still pilling. (Note: Wilson did apologize – not to women’s thighs but for the “repercussions of his actions”). Until next time. Stay hard core, Mariska

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Posted in Body Image, Exercise science, Fuse Pilates, Mariska...Uncut, Pilates DC and tagged , , ,

All Comments (17)

  1. Andrea Maida says:

    Great post Mariska – I loved reading it – disturbing how something can be perceived as optimal or normal when it is far from it! And yes, the pilling continues…
    your bow-legged friend,

  2. Mariska Breland says:

    🙂 The pilling does continue… It’s also pilling on the tops of my thighs. Swan dive? Pulling straps? Are those ill-advised for maintaining your lulu wear?

  3. Judy says:

    It’s not a question of insulting anyone. It’s about Mr Wilson’s lack of testing of his product before putting it on the market. His spank: Women won’t buy a defective product.

    Feel good!


  4. Erica Ross says:

    No such thing as whether your thighs should or shouldn’t touch. If you want them to touch, they should. If you don’t want them to, they shouldn’t. We SHOULD all be able to decide what we would prefer our bodies to look like.

    Now, I don’t really think Chip meant to insult women with big thighs, but there is probably some truth to the fact that if you buy a small yoga pant, because you don’t want to go up a size, and the fabric has to stretch more across the thighs it’s going to be sheer. Also, I think he’s within his rights to say who his pants are made for; he has a image he wants for his brand – what’s the big deal?

    I’m trying to get my thighs not to touch, and have started doing pilates and stopped doing cross fit which made my thighs hard and huge, at the recommendation of a book (google The Thigh Gap Hack if you’re interested. good stuff)

    One of the first things I will do when I reverse all the damage I’ve done to my thighs/legs with those super intense HIIT workouts, it to buy me a pair of lululemon pants. But that’s just me :/

  5. Mariska Breland says:

    One thing I will commend Lululemon on is that they have never vanity sized their clothing. In some clothing brands, I wear a size 0. I mean – what IS that?? How is that even a size?

  6. Allison says:

    My thighs don’t touch either and I’m a size 6 — it’s not because I’m twiggy, but because I’m pigeon-toed. This has lead to nearly 15 years of knee problems. Yeah, thighs that touch don’t seem like a bad thing in comparison. My lulu pants still pill from running — I guess Chip Wilson doesn’t think that women should run in lulu’s either. So did he design his activewear to be worn by rail-thin women who are not active? Uh-huh, that makes sense…

  7. Typical Guy says:

    Unfortunately it is a desirable trait, flaw or not. But in general society want traits that are not typical. Being a guy though, I believe this is a trait that is more desired by women for women. I see the appeal but is not a deal breaker for a typical guy.

    • Mariska Breland says:

      Typical Guy, I bet a lot of things women do in their eternal quest to be more beautiful is something typical guys don’t care about at all. (Thankfully).

  8. Laurel says:

    Yes Mariska! My thighs, knees and ankles don’t touch either! It’s not for lack of womanly curves on my body either, its my alignment pattern and something that I work on quite a bit. This “thigh gap” should not be a goal or somthing that we are preaching to young women as a sign of a beautiful body image. I ditched Lululemon years ago and have opted to support Athleta, a copy designed for women of ALL body types. There product is made well and I believe in their image and motto “Power to the She!”

  9. Brenda says:

    My heart aches to see that someone has bought so far into the thigh gap brainwashing that she considers her strong, muscular thighs to be “damaged.” THAT is the most insidious thing about thigh gap envy and Lululemon’s “aspirational” clothing message. If you want to work your body to a certain esthetic look, fine. But be aware that the media and advertising are trying to program you into wanting that by making you feel that not looking that way or not wearing those clothes means you’re damaged and ugly, and that is WRONG. Strong, muscular, big, curvy, tall, broad-shouldered bodies are beautiful, too, and don’t let the media convince you otherwise.

  10. Mariska Breland says:

    Although it might be nice if we can decide everything about what our bodies look like, it’s not always attainable. I can’t decide to be taller and accomplish it (unless I’m wearing heels).

    I believe that we should control what we can – as long as we can do it safely. If you want to be a size 6, and you can be a healthy size 6 – go for it! If you want to be a blonde but somehow you were born a brunette, that’s a trip to the hairdresser. You can get blue contact lenses, braces for straighter teeth, more arm definition. And yes, you can sometimes get slimmer thighs.

    That’s something I get asked a lot by students (which does make me sad). If you are muscular, and that’s what is making your legs bigger than you would like, the only way for your legs to get smaller is for them to atrophy. Changing your workout would be the healthier way to do that – letting your legs become smaller by doing different exercises (with a lighter load), as opposed to no exercise at all.

    But thigh gap is largely based on your bones, and most people don’t have the bone structure for it. One of the facebook comments from a student said that her ballet teacher told her that her thigh gap would ensure that she NEVER made it big as a ballet dancer. And I can’t think of any group with more beautiful, lean, strong legs than them.

    Another student was a size 1 who had to convince everyone she wasn’t anorexic, and she still didn’t have a thigh gap. Go for lean if you want lean. And, if thigh gap is so covetous, you can have mine (but you have to take my achy knee, piriformis syndrome, and ankle stability problems along with it).

  11. Sandra says:

    Pretty dumb comments coming from the CEO! No remorse, no filter, no common sense- Gees!

  12. eliza twist says:

    Geez! These minds of ours really freak me out sometimes! The mental hoops that a person jumps through to be right are scary as we are all witnessing in the case of this fitness fashion giant. I applaud Mariska for embracing being “wrong” and yet I must confess that I’ve spent most of my life claiming to be “wrong” and that doesn’t feel too good either. Apart from all these machinations is the reality in which we live and I for one feel a lot more comfortable there, even though I often have to fight my mind to get there. I’m thinking of a particular quote from Rumi that I have as a blessing in my studio because really the best approach in Pilates is the one that is based in reality: Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. Here’s to being real, it’s a great starting point for living a wonderful life!

    • Mariska Breland says:

      Excellent points Eliza! I don’t have any issues about my thighs not touching. I have so many things “wrong” with me, and that is super low on my list of things I care about. I care when it’s hard to walk or when I have pain. And, I care that I have students who want their thighs not to touch – not because I want to try to give them what they want, but I want them to realize that they’re strong and beautiful and they move without pain and they’re still on the right side of the dirt. 🙂

  13. Amanda says:

    Great post and explanation! Thank you!