The thigh gap: the scariest health trend of the year?

Earlier this week, Made in Chelsea star Millie Mackintosh shared a picture of herself getting ready for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, thanking her stylists for all their help.

Posing in a flesh-coloured corset and nothing else, the star’s slender frame was hard to miss.

Controversy was soon sparked by the model’s visible “thigh gap,” with comments posted on the picture saying things like, “I think she needs to eat a little more” and “How do you live with yourself knowing you may cause malnutrition in women because they desire to look like you and all of the #vs models? How do any of you???? It's honestly disgusting.”

Millie makes no secret of the fact that her lean frame is down to a lot of hard work in the gym and a clean diet. As well as various underwear shots, the star’s Instagram is also full of posts like this:

There’s no shame in having a slender body shape, especially if you’ve worked hard to be as healthy as possible. What’s scary is the growing trend of young women starving themselves to get similar results.

There is a serious lack of education out there about what it takes to have a healthy and slim body. Things have changed for the better in recent years with the growth of female fitness bloggers like Belfast’s Peanut Butter Girl, but there is still a perception among many that thin is healthy, and that the only way to be healthy is to eat less. The thigh gap trend is a worrying result of this belief that being skinny is the Holy Grail.

Open up any magazine or click into any fashion website and you’re immediately presented with images of stick-thin catwalk models. Some we know – Cara Delevingne, Kendall Jenner and co. – and some we don’t. The running theme is that they all have impossibly slender figures.

While some of their body shapes might simply be genetic – Cara herself has spoken about her own thigh gap, calling it an imperfection – the reality is, they can’t all be.

So let’s stop looking to the high-fashion catwalks for our health and fitness inspiration. Let’s instead focus on more fitness-friendly models like Millie Mackintosh. Yes, her body shape might not be for everyone, but we can all learn from her determination and commitment to staying healthy.

Next time you’re feeling like you need a motivation boost, check out some of the pictures from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show – they're far more inspiring than anything you'll see at New York Fashion Week.

Slim? Yes. Fit? Yes. Malnourished? No. Something to learn from, surely.