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Social media promotes popularity of "thigh-gap"

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Many young girls on social media are following the new trend of posting photos of their "thigh gaps." A person is said to have one if they put their knees together, but their hips do not touch.

Measuring up for some girls means literally measuring the space between their thighs.

"The issue that's real concerning is people trying to be something other than their body's natural build," said Licensed eating disorder counselor Jacquelyn Ekern.

A "thigh gap" is an unrealistic goal according to Ekern.

However, that does not stop girls from searching for "thinspiration" online. You can even follow famous models' thigh gaps on twitter.

"I think when they start seeing this topic trending they have a tendency to grasp that and become a little too obsessed with the thigh gap and develop eating disorder behavior that can really open the door to some very destructive eating and exercise patterns that could eventually lead to death," Ekern said.

Jeanette Henriques is well acquainted with dangerous eating.

"My eating disorder started when I was 11 years old until I was about 26."

First, it was anorexia, then bulimia and eventually compulsive overeating.

"I was in the low 70's and then I got up to 450 pounds," Henriques said.

"It is a big issue online," Ekern said. "There are a lot of sites that engage in, pro-being as thin as you can be and embrace an eating disorder as a lifestyle," said Ekern.

"I feel like there's even more pressure now to make sure that you have the right picture," Henriques added.

It usually starts with young girls, but can carry over into adulthood.

Look at the following viewer comments from the myFOXaustin Facebook page.

Desiree Lloyed writes; "I am working hard to achieve my thigh gap again after three kids."

Ashley Aguirre adds, "I wish I had a little thigh gap..."

Eileen Barsdale's post says, "In my day, thigh gap was a good thing!"

"If we look at an image, and we think wow, I really want to have my thighs look like that, it's helpful to say to ourselves, you know, that's probably not realistic," said Ekern.

Eating disorder or not, both women agree it's more difficult, these days, to maintain a positive body image but not impossible.

Some dangerous warning signs include; obsessing over calorie consumption, excessive exercising and never being satisfied with what you see in the mirror.

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