So it's cold, and everybody's poor, so no one's going out, so everyone's depressed and the sky's permanently the kind of grey that makes you feel like you're living in an ashtray. When you're trapped inside with only the internet as company, there's really only one thing you can do to explode the tedium: develop an eating disorder.
But any old eating disorder won't do. I'm talking about one that's purely internet-based. Introducing "the thigh gap", aka the most desirable fashion accessory to hit tumblr since the Hermes bag made out of A$AP Rocky's skin, aka the new cleavage.
The thigh gap is a body phenomena flaunted by supermodels, yearned for by plebs like you and I and documented extensively on blogs like this. About four hours ago, as far as I was concerned a "thigh gap" was something anyone could have if they stood up and placed their feet wider than hip distance apart. Wrong. A thigh gap is actually the hollow cavity which appears between the tops of your legs when you stand with your feet together. It's not a particularly nice looking thing, it looks like someone cut it out on Photoshop.
It also means that your body is underweight. Urgh, this sucks already. Why can't overweight people pioneer a fashion trend for once? Maybe it's time for those guys to seize control of fashion from the remorselessly stick-thin, like how people always say the world would be a better place if women ruled it instead of men.
Since 1000 years ago when teenage girls realised they could channel the 12 years of pre-menstrual stress they’d accumulated into obsessing about their weird new lumpy bodies, eating disorders have existed. Then the internet was invented and now it's not just about comparing your own body to your best looking friend's, it's about comparing yourself to the best looking person you can find on the internet.
The thigh gap feels like the first real envoy for body dysmorphia to be sent out from the digital world. You can follow Cara Delevingne's thigh gap on Twitter, if you like. You can trawl through thousands of thigh gaps on tumblr, if you want to feel very, very depressed. A thigh gap has not only become a body part in its own right; through the internet, it's achieved sentience.
And the thigh gap is not just important because it's an area of empty space: this newly discovered phantom appendage belongs solely to the tanned, lace panty and leather jacket wearing tumblr elite. It's the glossy knees, ripped denim shorts and low-slung vest of a high schooler who pretends to chain smoke and secretly listens to Linkin Park. It's all of the things you want to be before you discover sex and arguing with boys IRL, plus a whole load of moody lighting and a MacBook Pro with Photobooth.
If the thigh gap is a relatively new discovery for you too, you might be wondering how it’s possible to slim down muscle and fat to the extent that it looks you've altered your own bone structure. Surely repeated thigh crunches would bulk up your thighs, and general starvation will normally affect your chest, face and arms before it starts sucking out of your legs?
No fear, wannabe skinnies, tumblr has put together this step-by-step list just for us, so we can learn all about how to “prevent water retention” by sitting with our legs uncrossed, and other totally scientific tips. First of all, find out if you need to slim down by grabbing the flab on your outstretched leg. Can you grab any? You can? Fucking GROSS. Now you know that you’re fat and lazy, try “eating a TINY bit of food every two hours”. One slice of apple is OK. Just one, though. Just one slice of apple, every two hours.
The whole thing is just stupid. I don't understand how it's possible for anyone who isn’t in Made In Chelsea to even begin to consider doing it. Being able to maintain a thigh gap means that you don’t have to do anything else – it's a comment on aspiration and wealth. If I try to recall my own thought processes as a delusional teenager, I remember assuming all the skinny white girls in Teen Vogue had unlimited credit cards, white Land Rovers and houses in Malibu. This is the problem with the internet: you start to believe everything you see. You start to believe that this can exist in reality:
Reducing this body down to simply a "gap" is like arguing that Leonard Cohen is a great singer purely because of the silence he leaves between words. Sure, you can argue that for hours, and you might even start to believe it, but ultimately you're wrong. This girl has a gap between the tops of her thighs, sure, but she also has a spray tan, a stylist and a modelling contract. A photographer, a soundtrack and a gym membership. I could go on.
I guess the thigh gap is the cleavage for the self-obsessed, slightly scared, internet-influenced world we inhabit in 2013: it's restrained to the point of being non-existent, non-committal in its androgyny, too aloof to be voluptuous or sexually interested in anything. It's not fun, glamorous or even particularly youthful, it's just a very clear sign that the owner of said gap is depriving themselves of food. Is that where the future of the body image is going? We have to look like either Nicki Minaj or Erin Wasson? Rubbish.
You know what else is stupid about this trend? It doesn't make any sense. Duh! Anyone can get a thigh gap and you don't even have to die(t). Literally.
Follow Bertie on Twitter: @bertiebrandes
Catch up on last week's Pretty Girl Bullshit: Justin Bieber's Mom is Freaking Me Out