Target Creates Controversy with new ad

Written by a Student Contributor   // April 28, 2014   // 1 Comment

target photo

Katie Baseman
CCBC Essex

The term ‘Thigh Gap’ has been popular in recent years for the effects that it has on girls of all ages self esteem. But in recent weeks, the term connects to the outrage of not only Target customers, but also anyone who has seen the pictures of models visibly missing parts of their body.

The ‘Thigh Gap’ trend had appeared to simmer off, until Target, a very popular department store, used photo-shopped images in their junior bathing suit catalog inserting nonexistent thigh gaps on young girls.

For those who have not heard of the thigh gap sensation, it is the measurement of space between the thighs when the feet are placed next to each other. Although the thigh gap had always been around, websites such as Tumblr and Pinterest popularized the trend where many refer to it as “thinspiration”. It has become most popular during this past year and even more popular when the controversy over it being a positive or negative trend arose.

As talk of the thigh gap continues to spread, girls are starving themselves and excessively exercising in attempt to get the skinny legs they see on their favorite websites and now, even in their favorite stores advertisements. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 86% of girls say that social media sites (Tumblr, Pintrest, Facebook, etc.) hurt their body confidence. “When my daughter first told me about the thigh gap, I was a little concerned, but she had always had a small gap so I thought that would be enough,” said the mother of 19-year-old CCBC student.

However, concerns about the ‘Thigh Gap’ blew up when pictures on Target’s website for juniors bathing suits had noticeable photo-shop edits removing parts of the models’ bodies in attempt to show an unambiguous thigh gap. “I could not believe my eyes,” says one CCBC student. She explains that what made it worse was the extremely poor job of editing the photos. The mistake was first noticed by an online blogger Monday, March 10 and was removed from the Target website by the afternoon of Tuesday, March 11.

Psychologist Mia Holland, who is an expert in eating disorders for the American Psychological Association, says her main concern is the fact that for most girls and woman, the ‘Thigh Gap’ is physically unattainable. “It is the position of the hips and just the way the femur is attached to the hip socket, whether it’s turned out or straight,” she explains in hopes to shine a light on how you can not change that physical makeup.

After hearing that, second year CCBC student said, “Even though I do have a slight ‘Thigh Gap’, knowing that it is just about the way your body is made up makes me more disgusted about what Target did.” She continues by saying, “Trying to change a young girls body just because they are made differently than others is beyond disturbing.”

Although Tumblr receives credit for making the thigh gap so popular, Seventeen Magazine discusses the harm it may be causing. The article tells the tail of a 19-year-old girl who said, “I wanted a thigh gap, no matter what I had to put my body through.” That is where the trend becomes a concern for many people. The majority of the viral thigh gap pictures and tips point to starvation as the way to go about getting one, but they do not mention the health risks involved. Doctors write that kidney failure, hair loss, bone damage, and heart disease are all risks faced with the extremes these girls go to in an attempt to achieve the thigh gap.

According to ABC News, Target later apologized. Evan Miller, Target spokesman, reportedly said, “It was an unfortunate error on our part and we apologize.” However, Sandra Rose, a writer, and many others maintain the belief that those images were meant to be marketed and pushed on young girls.

The size of the gap between your thighs is idealized in these pictures and posts as being healthy and beautiful. Nevertheless, people who are trying to demolish the trending gap instead talk and post pictures about women such as Beyonce, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth Taylor. Many have even gone as far as posting hand written notes stating, “If Beyonce doesn’t have a thigh gap, I don’t need a thigh gap.” These curvy women are viewed by many as beautiful without having a gap between their upper legs.

There are some solutions for those who want to stay far away and/or uninvolved in the thigh gap trend whether they view it as a positive or negative. Leslie Barrie suggests in her article about the viral “thigh-gap trap” logging off of websites where all you tend to see are stick thin girls with large spaces between their legs. She also recommends unfollowing blogs that have become focused on the thigh gap and blocking users who post the pictures and tips of how to succeed in obtaining a thigh gap at any cost. Then again, when this becomes a problem even in advertisements, it seems hard to escape.

For those who have formed unhealthy obsessions with the thigh gap trend, the National Eating Disorder Association has a confidential hotline available from 9:00am-9:00pm Mondays thru Fridays. Designed for anyone concern about a loved one or even themselves that may be dealing with an eating disorder, call (800) 931-2237.

*Articles reflect the views of the author and or those quoted and do not necessarily represent the views of CCBC or the CCBC Connection.

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