In an art house, hermetically sealed both from germs and the passage of time, this conversation happened:
“Yo, did you see the thigh-gap on that chick last night?”
“The big space between her legs! It’s the must-have accessory of the year. All the girls want one.”
“Yeah, I kind of thought so too.”
“And kind of sad.”
“But hey, you know what would really help women feel better about their bodies? If we made a movie that objectified them! And then lopped off their heads! And took away their voices! How better to make them accept their bodies than by showing them that’s all they are? The ladeezzz are going to loooove this!”
“Ooh and let’s film it in that awesome early-70’s porn style! It’s super flattering and we can have a sun setting into the ocean BETWEEN HER LEGS.”
Okay so that may not have been how this ridiculous thigh-gap movie was born but honestly that’s the kindest way I can see this thing coming about. How else would someone have thought “I need to help women feel better about their legs” and come up with THIS?? (Watch the video below at your own peril. I am not responsible for any rage-induced aneurysms.)
Yet it seemed to start from a good place. Destroying the thigh-gap obsession seems like a worthy goal. After all, the little sliver of daylight between some women’s legs has launched a thousand pro-anorexia sites, not to mention a million Pinterest boards and #worthit Instagrams. It’s become just one more unrealistic body standard for women to aspire to, even though whether or not you have one is almost purely genetic. Yet when a recent short film tried to take down the thigh gap, it came up, well, short.
Fashion photographer and director Guy Aroch says he created the film because he wanted to “diffuse” the controversial topic by taking abstracted look at the much-documented thigh-gap obsession. “It was more a comment on the mysterious fixation women have,” he explains, “because as a male, I didn’t even know it was a thing.”
His ignorance shows, starting right with the title “The Magic Gap”. Has anyone ever called it that? I’ve been in the biz a long time and I’ve yet to hear it placed in the same category with David Blane’s next stunt and the part of the Grand Canyon you can only find at the end of the rainbow. Turning the descriptive “thigh gap” into something magical is not only confusing but elevates it and makes it seem enchanting and desirable. It isn’t magic whether or not you have a thigh gap, but rather a combination of body type, pelvis width and tendon length.
Then there’s the actual movie. The video shows 70’s style pictures of different thigh gaps while asking random people on the street what “the magic gap” is. It’s clear from the get-go that no one has the slightest clue what he’s talking about, which might have been a good point had he stopped there. But the film is basically two minutes of pelvic exams of supermodels, all of whom have very noticeable thigh gaps. Superimposing “a mystical thing where unicorns and rainbows come out” (as one person put it) over a lingering close-up of a young woman’s crotch ends up feeling more like soft porn than empowerment.
In addition to wording problems, Aroch’s filmography is a little gross. There a real creeper vibe to camera angles and the way the viewer follows each woman as she walks and bends over. And then we don’t get to see any other parts of the women. There are no faces or expressions. We don’t even hear their voices. Thigh gaps are all they are, apparently. And since these women are all models – how do you have a supposedly body positive video with absolutely zero body diversity? – their thigh gaps are shown as sexy and glamorous, the exact thing Aroch claims to challenge. (Seriously, can I be reincarnated as Chanel Iman?)
The worst part though is that the film was created as part IV of the #definebeauty project on Nowness which is supposed to show beauty in a whole new light, challenging societal assumptions. While I’ll admit that some of the earlier videos weirded me out at least they made me think, tackling subjects like body hair and beauty as genius. Yet all this video does is perpetuate old body stereotypes while showing how hot models are. (As if we needed that reminder?) This is unfortunate since Aroch had a real opportunity to start a conversation about why this particular feature has become the standard of beauty. Instead he just fetishized it.
On the other hand, this is the perfect example of how not to talk about body confidence.
I’m so so tired of hearing about thigh gaps. I’m not saying they are bad in and of themselves – if you have one naturally then that is awesome and beautiful. But the thigh gap as fashion statement I can do without. Your legs are not an accessory. They’re your legs. Can we move on to something more interesting now? Let’s do tooth gaps! At least that doesn’t involve dieting.
No thigh gap here and she couldn’t be cuter!