The Problem With #MermaidThighs

August 24th 2016

Tricia Tongco

Over the past few months, women have been pushing back against the thigh gap trend on social media with a new hashtag.


A photo posted by Orla (@whorlasms) on

People of the internet, meet #MermaidThighs.


A photo posted by Samantha (@samcourtois) on

The hashtag, which celebrates when a woman's thighs touch, has been praised by several media outlets as a body-positive spin on the thigh gap trend.

People headline for Mermaid Thighs

However, Melissa Fabello, the managing editor of Everyday Feminism, pointed out the problem with #MermaidThighs in a recent Twitter thread.

In her subsequent tweets, Fabello explains how the women using the hashtag – whom she describes as not actually being fat – are actually feeding into "fatphobia."

Next, she comments on how #MermaidThighs needlessly creates competition, pitting women of different body types against each other.

After asking that question, she returns to how the hashtag is rooted in "fat hate" and instead of fighting against it, #MermaidThighs indirectly supports it.

It seems, then, that #MermaidThighs does not deal with the root of the issue behind thigh gap standards – the intense and unfair scrutiny of women's bodies in our culture. You can see this manifest itself in the prevalence of fat-shaming, eating disorders, and sexual objectification. As well-intentioned as this hashtag is, it might not be as positive as it seems at first glance.

Update 8/26/2016 at 5:10 p.m. PDT: This piece was updated with additional tweets and  the following statement: Since publication, the author has clarified that her issue is not with the hashtag or the trend in and of itself, but rather, with the ways in which some thin women are using it as a way to coopt the experience of fat oppression.