Why can't the internet move on from 'thigh gaps'?
Why oh why are we still talking about thigh gaps?
Thigh gaps tragically bubbled into the public consciousness in 2012 after a Victoria's Secret Fashion show when the internet decided that the space between (some) women's thighs was worth fetishising.
This resulted in blogs, meme's, FB tribute pages, angry debate and a lot of awkward exchanges around the water cooler when someone enquired, "Huh, what's a thigh gap?"
And yep, you really can follow Cara Delevingne's thigh gap on Twitter.
Just when you thought we'd moved on to focus on some all new unattainable standard of beauty we're reminded again of their existence.
This week, not one but two videos attempting to tackle the controversial topic came to our attention. And neither did anything of the sort.
College Humor put out a spoof in the style of a History Channel documentary - with insightful commentary by 'Professor Sinbad Queens' and 'Talkative Man' - which aims to answer the question: 'How did this arbitary measure of bone structure become a standard of beauty?'
The video mocks the creation of another impossible beauty standard for women to measure themselves against with, making fun of the pointlessness of trying to get a thigh gap by talking about things like physiology and bone structure. (i.e. you can't do much about your bones, no matter how many squats you do at the gym).
As plus size model Robyn Lawley pointed last year when a photo of her was posted to a pro thigh gap forum on the internet and beset with derogatory comments,
"The truth is I couldn't care less about needing a supposed "thigh gap". It's just another tool of manipulation that other people are trying to use to keep me from loving my body. Why would I want to starve and weaken my natural body size? I'm not saying women who have it naturally are unattractive. But I would have to change my entire frame just to achieve something that seems so trivial," said Lawley.
However the College Humour video, while well having good intentions, ultimately veers into a different kind of body shaming, "A woman with a thigh gap could not have the proper amount of junk in the trunk," says 'Professor Queens'.
It seems women can't win, whether they have a thigh gap or don't.
The College Humor video, however, is not nearly as harmful as this 'Magic Gap' vignette that was created by the luxury Louis Vuitton group (LVMH) for it website, Nowness.
The video is part of the website's 5 part #definebeauty series, which sees directors and photographers make short films about how they see beauty. Such as this one from Clara Cullen on beauty as a form of genius.
The Magic Gap was directed by fashion photographer Guy Aroch who has shot for the likes of Vogue, GQ and WWD, and it looks exactly how it sounds.
90 seconds of dream-like, slow-motion, sun dappled close-ups of the thigh gaps and bums of models (Chanel Iman and Gigi Hadid are two of the models featured) with voice-overs of people talking about what 'gap' means to them - from the gap between your teeth, a political statement, or an opening in the earth.
Nowness claims that Aroch has taken a critical "diffusion" on a controversial subject (ah that would be the thigh gaps), but it's pretty hard to see anything critical, or indeed anything at all, other than straight up fetishising of a pretty hard to obtain body trait.
The name of the film is a pretty good giveaway to that.
As Tyler McCall wrote in Fashionista,
"There's nothing probing about this video, nothing that makes the viewer step back and say, "You know, why are we obsessing over this?".
While there's plenty of thinspo and fitspo images littering the internet dedicated to getting a thigh gap of your very own, there's something more galling about this video given that it claims to be taking a critical stance ("diffusion") against an impossible beauty standard while making a 'dreamy' video that glorifies it.
What's more, it's a video that is both shallow and pointless, posturing as something deep and meaningful.
Guy Aroch, a "romanticised, sun-kissed filter," as your piece is described by Nowness, does not a piece of commentary make.
There are right ways, like Robyn Lawley's killer comments on the topic, to go about having this conversation - and then there are these videos.
- Daily Life