What’s wrong with these two pictures?:
I’ll give you a hint!
Peep those crotches.
Target is getting lots of heat over their spectacular photoshopping job, done with the intent of giving the model a “thigh gap”. Assuming that you, the reader, don’t have a tumblr account, here’s an FYI: a thigh gap is gap or space that is visible between the thighs when a person is standing with both of their knees touching. “What’s the point of that?” I hear you and a brood of mothers asking. Answer: there isn’t one. The popularity of and obsession with the thigh gap was, for a long time, banished to deeper parts of tumblr where teenage girls reblogged black and white picture after black and white picture of thigh gaps. But the thigh gap has been creeping its way into more of the mainstream through models in magazines, hipster blogs, and now, Target advertisements.
Look, we know that models and celebrities are constantly photoshopped on magazine covers and storefront posters. Is it unfortunate? Yes. Is it a contributor to our obsession with perfection and a driver of our need to hold up to an ideal beauty standard? Totally. But at least other magazines try to fool us by not doing a crappy job of pretending that Taylor Swift has no back rolls in this dress and that you could balance a dinner plate on her collar bones:
It’s one thing to know you’re being lied to by a glossy magazine ad, but it’s another thing to see a blatant attempt gone bad. Because it’s that ad-gone-bad that takes the problem out of the back of your head and puts it in front of your eyes: there’s a standard for what beauty or attractiveness is and try as you might to forget it, designers and clothing companies will try their hardest (or not their hardest) to remind you. “This is beautiful and this is what goes on magazines. Not your totally normal thighs that are the right size for your body shape. These thighs with this thigh gap that’s SO REALISTIC, we had to photoshop it onto a model who also doesn’t have it. She’s probably 5’10, 125 pounds. And we STILL had to give her one. So you TOTALLY have a chance. And when you achieve that thigh gap, then you can be sexy in these (actually pretty ugly) bathing suits.”
But maybe that’s where the silver bikini lining lies in this whole thing (and I don’t apologize for that pun). Maybe we needed to see this 8th grade level photoshop job to remind us that people are trying to pull wool over our eyes, to remind us that we live in a time of war against our bodies. We’re living in a society where beauty is only skin deep and if you want to be beautiful, you have to look the way society says you should, even if you can’t achieve it. But the problem is that we still try. We starve ourselves and run for days on end hoping for a result that might never come because some things just can’t. But we’ll push and we’ll push and depress ourselves, hoping to reach a standard that isn’t even a realistic one. And for what? To look like a picture? A picture that doesn’t have the capabilities that our bodies have – the ability to give birth, the ability to move gracefully, the ability to rock a mini skirt at a bar!
We all have our body struggles. But this can be good for us. What I hope the public, especially teen girls and young adults, take away from this snafu is the reminder that perfection isn’t a real thing. That even some of the most “perfect” bodies in the world aren’t perfect enough to be in magazines and need to be chopped up in Microsoft Paint to meet the standards society’s decided on. I hope these Target ads are one of the last straws for girls and women struggling with the perception of their bodies, girls and women who pull at the skin on their bones, wishing it would disappear. I hope they look at these and say, “You know what? I’m sick of being sold perfection. It’s time for real to be beautiful.” I hope they walk around in their bathing suits, thigh gap or no thigh gap, jiggle or no jiggle, and I hope they march through the streets, thighs swinging and confidence high. It’s time to put an end to the influence that crummy photoshops and ridiculous body expectations.
It’s time to take a step towards embracing ourselves and the amazing bodies we walk around in.
Because have you seen some of the bodies walking around lately? They’re spectacular. They’re thick, they’re thin. They’re lean, they’re petite. They’re different and unique and are as good as anyone else’s as long as they think so. And it’s taking us women and girls too long to realize that. I know it took me too long but I’m here and I’ve realized and others should too. The time to realize it is now. The time to stand for our beauty is now – on our own two thighs.
And you know what, I might save these Target photos for the day my daughter comes to me and says, “Mom, why don’t my legs look like the girls in the magazine’s?” And I’ll pull out these photos and show them to her and say, “Because you’re a real person who’s supposed to have thighs like you have. And you’re supposed to have crotch where these two girls don’t.”