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Why Ab Cracks Don't Mean You're in Better Shape


When I was an undergraduate—eh hem, over 25 years ago—my then roommate and I got into a fight over her thigh gap and thigh jiggle. She informed me that the number one way to tell a person's fitness level was to measure the amount of space between their thighs, and to note how much their legs jiggled. At the time, I thought that was ludicrous. Even in my late teens I knew that everyone's body is different. We all have different bone structures and body builds, and a "thigh gap" is not attainable—let alone healthy—for everyone.

Now it's over 20 years later, and with over two decades of research on eating disorders under my belt, whenever I hear the words "thigh gap" from a client, it immediately raises a red flag for me. Why? Because often those clients are the ones headed for dangerous territory, using unhealthy habits in order to achieve what is often an unattainable measure of "beauty."

Another term that's now raising a red flag: Ab crack. The social media trend that glorifies the line that runs down the center of your abdominal cavity is just another way of showing off possibly unhealthy habits. Because just as the thigh gap is not genetically possible for many women, the "ab crack" is dependent on more than just your level of muscularity and body fat. Anatomically speaking, the ab crack—aka your linea alba—is a fibrous structure of connective tissue that runs down the midline of the abdomen. It is formed by the way your body fused the right and left side of your abdominal wall together before birth. Translation? You may never develop an ab crack, no matter how much you work out, and you can thank genetics for that.

So should the "ab crack" be considered a sign of healthiness or athleticism? Absolutely not.

Ladies, here's the thing: I am all for you wanting to lead a healthy lifestyle. Weight-bearing activity and cardiovascular activity are both healthy and good for you, if not done to excess. But using a physical measure, like the thigh gap or the ab crack, as a sign that you are athletic enough, pretty enough, [insert desired word] enough concerns me. You don't need to attain someone else's definition of beauty, athleticism, or fitness. By all means eat right and exercise. But more importantly, be healthy—and happy.