Commentary: The Dangerous Message Behind The Magic Gap

chanel iman in the magic gap

Commentary: The Dangerous Message Behind The Magic Gap

It’s just a new way for women to feel horrible about themselves.

Published June 2, 2014

Stop the average woman on the street—any age, any street—and ask her what one part of her body she’d like to change. Then wait about half a second, because it will only take that long for her to explain how her stomach, arms, lower back, knees, etcetera are all wrong. From “I don’t like how this piece of skin jiggles right next to my left shoulder” to “my butt is the worst,” women are their harshest, most unrelenting critics, usually creating gargantuan problems where absolutely none exist because we expect our bodies to look like digitally altered ones in magazines and on film.

Guy Aroch apparently decided that women did not have enough things to obsess about, so he decided to give us one more: thigh gap. This is a body reality for very, very few women and it happens when you stand with your knees touching and there is a space—a sizable space, large enough to be called a gap—between your inner thighs.

The website Nowness has a body image series called #DefineBeauty and each week it looks at another one of the beauty ideals women are expected to achieve. Last week it tackled thigh gap and reached out to fashion photographer and director Aroch, who admits on the site that “I didn’t even know it was a thing.” So in what he claims was an effort to “diffuse” this “mysterious fixation women have,” Aroch instead created what looks like a visual love letter to it. Focusing the camera on the thighs of super thin models, like Chanel Iman, as they go through life in tiny shorts and swimsuits, with their thigh gaps on display, the audio of the film is people answering the question “What is the Magic Gap?” No one gets it right, so instead of saying “that area between the thighs of supermodels,” they say just about anything else. Aroch explains he was trying to be “quite voyeuristic,” but the result is that he is being quite fetishistic.

With his film, Aroch also set back countless women and girls who will see the video—a visual love letter to thigh gaps—and decide that there is a new part of their bodies that is wrong and bad. If the world, and that includes fashion photographers like Aroch, truly want women to feel beautiful, there needs to be an end to creating a hierarchy of parts. Because if thighs with a gap are magical, what are ones without it? Cursed?

Hopefully all of the conversation and outrage that "The Magic Gap" has generated can lead more women to realize that these notions of what is and what is not beautiful are not real. They are based on the misplaced fantasies of others. And instead of us giving them real power in our lives, we can get back to the difficult—but truly magical—job of loving ourselves.

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(Photo: Courtesy The Magic Gap/Nowness)

Written by Ayana Byrd


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