Why an 'Ab Crack' Is Not the Kind of Goal We Should Be Striving For

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We all look in the mirror on occasion and some of us dislike what we see looking back. Being dissatisfied with your physical appearance is known as dysphoria. Many of us will exfoliate, pluck, and exercise—and some will take more drastic measures like surgery—to transform the image in the mirror to the one in our mind. Enter the ab crack and the attempts to achieve this body feature.

What Is an Ab Crack?

Never heard of an ab crack before? If you follow models Emily Ratajkowski, Bella Hadid, or influencer Hannah Bronfman on Instagram, you've probably seen it—but there hasn't been a term for the crease that runs down the center of very flat bellies until Elle.com dubbed the ab crack "the new six pack."

Once you know what to look for, you'll notice ab cracks everywhere: They were on display at Coachella—a music and arts festival in California—and you'll see it in the pages of SI's annual Swimsuit issue, and on the runway at a Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

Let's be clear: We're all for strong, toned abs, and there's nothing dangerous about having a crease down the middle as long as you're leading a healthy lifestyle. But like the belly button challenge and the thigh-gap craze before it, we're wary of any viral measure of an "ideal" body that encourages women to strive for a specific physical characteristic—especially one that's difficult or even impossible to achieve.

Genetic Differences

"Not everyone is destined to have a washboard stomach or an 'ab crack,' no matter how hard they work out, or how little they eat," says Health's medical editor Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, an assistant professor at the NYU School of Medicine. "Usually the people who achieve them are fitness professionals or models who are paid to look unnaturally good—who are also probably genetically blessed."

In other words, the ab cracks you see on social media are likely the result of extreme fitness and DNA. There's no lower-body regimen or diet trick that will guarantee you an ab crack. So rather than striving for this particular look, a healthier strategy is to focus on strengthening your entire core—which includes your back and obliques, in addition to your abs—and eating a clean diet with plenty of fresh produce, lean proteins, pulses, and good fats (think salmon, avocados, and nuts).

The bottom line, according to Dr. Rajapaksa: "Getting an ab crack is probably not a realistic or healthy goal for the average person."

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