The "thigh gap" is something you'll usually find in one of three places: on thinspiration blogs, in think pieces about body image, and on softcore subreddits. Today, it appears in the name of art in a video by Guy Aroch for the #DefineBeauty campaign over on NOWNESS. The campaign is supposed to be a meditation on beauty tropes, though, so far, it's just turning out to be a slightly more nude version of The Virgin Suicides: artfully gazing on pretty conventionally perfect forms rather than making any boundary-pushing commentary. The Magic Gap, as Aroch's short film is called, seeks to probe and put in perspective "the mysterious fixation women have...because as a male, I didn’t even know [the thigh gap] was a thing.”
That's not a novel idea, but this video isn't doing anything to diversify the media's idealized images of what the female body can and should look like, in the minds of any gender. Instead, it's a total trigger.
When we're talking about body-image triggers, it's not just about being politically correct or coddling people. It's about the very easily verifiable fact that women who suffer from eating disorders — or even those who just hate their bodies in a way that's not necessarily manifested with any outward behavior — directly feed into that vicious cycle of self-loathing by seeking out images of thin bodies on the Internet. They compile them into extensive Tumblrs, they Pin them with text about "a perfect body, a perfect soul" overlaid, they print them out and keep them in their wallets to look at whenever the smell of a good meal wafts temptingly by.
Covering the thigh gap in such a romanticized, sexualized way strikes a pretty sour note in the context of a series that's supposed to #DefineBeauty. That's not to say it's not worth exploring or discussing, but exploration and discussion this video is not. The below is more than a bit tone-deaf to the realities of an easily identified, widely circulated trait, like the thigh gap, and the way it morphs our perspectives on our own bodies. It's the reminder no one asked for of something we'd all like to forget. Watch, if you're interested in the so-called commentary, but please, please be warned.