The pro-ana/thinspo community could fill a dictionary with the code words and terms used in various social networks to discuss weight loss and aspirations of losing more and more weight.
But a new one, thigh gap, has crossed over from the relatively close-knit pro-anorexia community and is now being used by pornographic websites to categorize explicit material.
Here's a definition of a "thigh gap" from Urban Dictionary:
Pro-anorexia or "pro-ana" material still thrives on social networks like Tumblr and Pinterest, despite their bans of thinspirational (or "thinspo") content. A simple search reveals a pretty shocking amount of such material, easily indexable under the tag "thigh-gap" or "dat-gap." (WARNING: "Dat-gap" is extremely not safe for work.)
A quick look at the content indexed under Tumblr's "thigh-gap" tag:
And here's what content tagged "thigh gap" on Pinterest looks like:
Now, the term has has become sexualized by men communing on sites like Reddit — it's become a blanket term for a rear view of a woman bending over. The thinspo connotations are still there, but the images have become far more graphic than when the term was confined to thinspo circles.
Here's a second, slightly more pointed definition of a thigh gap:
And a search for subreddits that use the term "gap":
A list of the subreddits dedicated to thigh gaps:
•/r/datgap: DAT GAP
"You know what's up. Dat gap."
•/r/happygaps: Happy Gaps For All!"
"A subreddit for the glorious space between the vagina and the thighs."
•/r/thighgaps: for that illustrious gap.
"Gap so big, gap so sexy, gap so wide it could fit a school bus."
•/r/mindthegap: Mind the Gap
"See Urban Dictionary."
•/r/boxgap: The beautiful gap caused by the box
•/r/GirlsWithGap: Girls With Gap
"Pics of girls with gaps between their legs."
•r/gapbetweenthighs: Gap Between Thighs
"Girls with that beautiful and sexy gap in between."
The Chive's "mind the gap" tag archives content like this:
A post compiles examples of "dat gap" from the site Regretful Morning.
This co-opting of "thigh gap" is fairly upsetting when you remember that a community responsible for things like this:
Inspires sexualized content like this:
Here's a blog post from earlier this year referring to the gap goal as a "happy gap":
And of course this exists:
Perhaps the shocking thing is how prevalent and complex the "gap classification" has become.
Coming up with bawdy, often bizarre terms for organizing sexual content online is nothing new. The whole porn industry is full of shorthand like BBW (big beautiful women) or nicknames for illicit activities like "water sports" (the act of urinating or defecating on a sexual partner).
But this appears to be the first time the line between a term paraded around by what is essentially a self-harm community and a term used by pornographers has blurred so quickly and gone so mainstream.