“Legging legs” is the latest body-focused term being used on— and some are calling the trend dangerous and harmful. The phrase, which is blocked from search on TikTok, caught on as a description of the “perfect” or “ideal” size and shape of legs for wearing leggings, promoting what experts say can be an unhealthy body image.
It appears to be a new spin on the internet-fueledfrom around 2013, in which young women and teens pursued an elusive and possibly dangerous goal of being slender enough for their thighs not to touch when standing with their feet together.
Social media trends that draw attention to bodycan have both a negative effect on those already impacted by eating disorders and also put others at risk, says Elizabet Altunkara, director of education at the National Eating Disorders Association.
What are “legging legs”?
“The new trend ‘legging legs’ is problematic as it suggests that only certain body types are able to wear a piece of clothing — an idea that promotes the appearance ideal we have all been exposed to and whose internalization may put people at risk to develop an eating disorder,” she says.
Dr. Samantha DeCaro, director of clinical outreach and education at The Renfrew Center, a network of eating disorder treatment facilities, calls the trend “yet another inappropriate way to body shame individuals.”
“These types of trends are destructive,” she says. “Body dissatisfaction is a major risk factor in the development and maintenance of an eating disorder.”
While some “legging legs” videos circulating on social media did feature slim legs and thigh gaps, the trend doesn’t specify the exact standard for what defines the “legging legs” category — seemingly leaving the label up to others’ judgment. But it broadly highlights the same view of certain body ideals as the earlier “thigh gap” trend.
TikTok has not responded to CBS News’ request for comment, but it appears the company has blocked the term and hashtag from the app. A search of “legging legs” on TikTok doesn’t return video results — instead, the app provides a link to resources about eating disorders.
“While we applaud TikTok for removing the hashtag and replacing it with links to eating disorder resources, space needs to be given for continued conversations and education on the fact that self-worth is not determined by ones’ bodies,” DeCaro says.
The bottom line? Regardless of their body shape and size, people should be able to wear what they like without judgment.
“Leggings are for everyone, not solely for a specific body type,” Altunkara says.
If you or someone you know is struggling with body image or eating concerns, the National Eating Disorders Association’s toll-free and confidential helpline is available by phone or text at 1-800-931-2237 or by click-to-chat message at nationaleatingdisorders.org/helpline. For 24/7 crisis situations, text “NEDA” to 741-741.