Hot new fall clothes aren’t the only runway trends people want to steal for themselves these days: More women are becoming obsessed with creating a “thigh gap”—having space between their legs—as seen on some models during fashion week.
But what you may not realize is that this body image isn’t something you can work toward with a healthy diet and exercise routine, says Vonda Wright, M.D., author of Guide to Thrive: 4 Steps to Body, Brains, and Bliss. “Very few women have a large gap between their thighs,” says Wright. “Thigh gaps really only happen through genetics—but even if you have wide hips, your legs can still touch if you have a lot of muscle.”
Obsessions with transforming certain body parts aren’t exactly a new phenomenon, but what’s scary about this trend is that women are going to dangerous lengths to get crazy-thin legs, says Claire Mysko, a spokesperson for the National Eating Disorders Association. “Most women cannot achieve this look without extreme dieting or sometimes a full-blown eating disorder,” she says.
Also, bear in mind that “skinny doesn’t necessarily mean fit or healthy,” says Wright. Sticking to muscle-sculpting leg workouts to get toned thighs is a much healthier—and very sexy—option.
*This story was originally published on WomensHealth.com.