Thigh gaps and Sam’s other hats

When I am not writing and editing blog posts, posting things to our Facebook page, riding bikes or doing physio, or tackling my new big job, I’m sometimes working on one of my favourite things, Feminist Philosophy Quarterly.

What’s FPQ? It’s an online, open access, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to promoting feminist philosophical scholarship. Our goal is to be a platform for philosophical research that engages the problems of our time in the broader world.  FPQ is published quarterly with financial support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

The others editors and co-founders are Carla Fehr, University of Waterloo,  Alice MacLachlan, York University, and Kathryn Norlock, Trent University. Not surprisingly, they’ve all guest blogged here! See here, here, and here

We were all excited to be publishing a paper on something we’ve tackled on the blog, namely thigh gaps

And one of the joys of open access publishing is that I can share that with you here. You don’t need access to a university library. You can just follow this link and read the paper if you like. 

Anatomy of the Thigh Gap

Abstract: This article explores the ongoing obsession with the thigh gap ideal in certain pockets of Western societies. A thigh gap is the space some women have between their inner thighs when they stand with their feet together. The thigh gap ideal is flaunted on “thinspo” websites, which compile diet and exercise tips and display pictures of fashion models and “real women” in their efforts to inspire women to become thinner. I aim to identify what is wrong with the thigh gap obsession and to suggest a way to overcome it. I begin by describing the genesis of the obsession. I then argue that the relation women in the grip of this preoccupation have to their bodies is an instance of what I call bodily alienation. Next, I consider responses to the thigh gap phenomenon. I claim that a viable response, besides broadening standards of beauty, lies in pursuing bodily activities for their own sake. I call the view I articulate “sensualism.” I conclude by discussing the merits of an individual response of the type I advocate, in light of the structural character of women’s oppression through standards of beauty.

Céline Leboeuf, Florida International University


CÉLINE LEBOEUF is an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy at Florida International University. Her current research lies at the intersection of continental philosophy, feminist philosophy, and the critical philosophy of race. Her forthcoming papers include: “ ‘What Are You?’: Addressing Racial Ambiguity” (in Critical Philosophy of Race), “The Embodied Biased Mind” for An Introduction to Implicit Bias: Knowledge, Justice, and the Social Mind, and “The Legacy of Simone de Beauvoir” for the Oxford Handbook of Feminist Philosophy.



Image description: A large gap between two rocks. There’s water between. A young white woman with blonde hair is laying down on one side, arms spread. She’s wearing a grey hoodie and jeans and sneakers. She looks thoughtful.
Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash