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Wellness > Mental Health

Let’s Not Make “Legging Legs” A Thing, OK?

Content warning: This article discusses eating disorders and weight. The internet is exhausting. As if you didn’t have enough to worry about, it’s time for you to find out if you have high or low visual weight! Oh, and don’t forget — clean girl is out, mob wife is in. And, if you’re going to slip into a pair of your favorite loungewear set, only do so if you have “legging legs.”

Yes, I’m serious. “Legging legs.” What the hell are “legging legs?!”

TikTok can be a great place to find inspiration for outfits, connect with other people, and express yourself in the ever-growing digital landscape. However, TikTok (and social media in general) isn’t a perfect utopia, and harbors damaging trends that have been around for years, just disguised in sheep’s clothing.

Unfortunately, the trend of the “thigh gap” (which is, ICYMI, when your thighs don’t touch) has manifested itself onto the TikTok FYPs of millions. Now dubbed “legging legs,” TikTok’s newest body-shaming trend focuses on the size, and appearance, of one’s legs when they wear the most universally loved, and worn, article of clothing out there: leggings.

What are “legging legs” and why is it problematic?

If you’re asking me what “legging legs” are, my answer is quite simple. They’re legs. In leggings. Full stop.

However, some TikTok users don’t share the same sentiment, The hashtag #legginglegs went viral in December 2023 and January 2024 after users began sharing videos of themselves in yoga pants, showing off the gap between their thighs. However, as of Jan. 30, the hashtag has been banned, and the page replaced with information on eating disorders and mental health resources.

“When a particular body feature or shape, like ‘legging legs,’ becomes a trend, it can create unrealistic expectations about how individuals should look,” Jennifer Worley, LMFT tells Her Campus. “Constant exposure to a singular, often unattainable body ideal can lead to dissatisfaction and negative feelings about one’s own body. This is especially concerning if the trend becomes a benchmark against which people compare themselves.”

Trends that involve bodies and appearance shouldn’t be taken lightly. While posting a video, or engaging in a hashtag could seem harmless in the moment, the impacts of these trends can be detrimental. “The myth that a specific standard can be used to define beauty is false and toxic,” Dr. Jennifer Chain — a Licensed Psychologist, owner of Thrive For The People, and expert in eating disorder treatment — tells Her Campus. “I’ve seen how these messages about beauty standards or trends can become a mental prison for my clients — even those who do naturally fit the ‘legging legs,’ or some other trend, still feel like they are not enough.”

As someone who has been in recovery from an eating disorder for many years, Chain emphasizes how harmful trends like this can be. “These beauty trends are black holes of ‘never enough’ and can lead a person down a negative spiral of self-hate, self-punishment, and self-sabotage,” she says. “Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. When we talk about these trends impacting people’s well-being, we are literally talking about life and death.”

In the midst of these trends, there are tools to protect your mental health.

I’ve said it before: The internet is exhausting. And while we can only hope the trends revolving around bodies slowly fade into obscurity, right now, it’s important to put your mental health before your FYP.

With trends like “legging legs” only continuing to make themselves known on social media, Worley recommends practicing body neutrality, which is the focus on appreciating the functionality and health of your body, rather than its appearance. “It’s a way of acknowledging that your worth is not tied to how closely you fit a current trend,” she adds.

Additionally, it’s important to take some time away from the screen. “If and when you do engage in social media, you can practice being more objective and detached when you encounter trends like ‘leggings legs,'” Chain says. “Ask yourself if these messages seem superficial or if they feel authentic and meaningful. Then, ask yourself how you feel after you engage with them.”

Above all else, both experts encourage folks to seek professional help if they feel themselves becoming overwhelmed. “If you are struggling with your self-esteem, reach out to friends, family, counselors, or faculty members who know you well and can remind you of your inherent worth and intrinsic beauty,” Chain says.

 If you or someone you know has an eating disorder and needs help, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline at 1-800-931-2237, text 741741, or chat online with a Helpline volunteer here.

 If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.

julianna (she/her) is an associate editor at her campus where she oversees the wellness vertical and all things sex and relationships, wellness, mental health, astrology, and gen-z. during her undergraduate career at chapman university, julianna's work appeared in as if magazine and taylor magazine. additionally, her work as a screenwriter has been recognized and awarded at film festivals worldwide. when she's not writing burning hot takes and spilling way too much about her personal life online, you can find julianna anywhere books, beers, and bands are.