ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (KARE11)- You may have caught wind of this on social media, something called the "thigh gap."
Some fear it's fueling an unrealistic, even dangerous, goal for teens.
Thigh gap is being glorified by girls through social media. They are posting pictures of thighs so thin, they don't touch when feet are together.
The problem is very few women have the bone structure for it.
Heather Gallivan is a licensed psychologist and clinical director of Park Nicollet's Melrose Center, an eating disorders clinic.
Gallivan said, "It's very rare that naturally or healthfully, that a woman could have this type of body shape. So what is happening is adolescent girls and young adult women are going to extremes with diet and exercise to achieve this." And that, she said, can lead to an eating disorder.
Gallivan continued, "That's a very serious psychological and medical illness that typically requires fairly intensive treatment."
Photos of thigh gaps can be found on all sorts of social media sites including Tumblr, a site that many parents might not be on.
Gallivan said, "Most parents don't even know it's out there and it's mostly a teen and young adult website."
She said there are also pictures being posted on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest and it's important to realize that, "a lot of the images that someone might see on a lot of these websites are Photoshopped."
Gallivan said they are images that are unhealthy and unattainable so she urges parents to talk to their daughters about thigh gap.
She also tells girls that thighs that touch are good. She said, "That's not a bad thing. It's healthy. It's normal."
Gallivan said signs someone you love might be developing an eating disorder include a dramatic change in eating habits, social isolation or wearing baggy clothes to hide weight loss.
She also said they may also be more irritable, going to the bathroom after meals, exercising excessively or visiting websites that show how to drop weight quickly. There may also be a change in their patterns of seeing their peers.
Gallivan said studies show that 70% who develop eating disorders have looked at pro-eating disorder websites online.
And it's important to catch eating disorders early. She said, "One of the things we know about treating eating disorders is that we are much more successful the sooner we can intensively treat someone than waiting for a long period of time."
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