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Published March 16, 2014, 10:30 PM

Holt: Crotch-erasing the new thigh gap?

Apparently “thigh gap” is no longer enough. Now women and girls aren’t supposed to have any lady parts.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

Apparently “thigh gap” is no longer enough. Now women and girls aren’t supposed to have any lady parts.

In a series of new Target Photoshop fails (this isn’t the Minneapolis-based retailer’s first offense), a young model’s crotch has been crudely erased. You can still see the sides of the patterned bikini bottom she’s wearing on the insides of her legs.

There are a few things that make this Photoshop error especially egregious: 1) the model is wearing a “mid-kini” from the juniors line, 2) the edges are jagged (if you’re going to digitally mutilate bodies, at least do it right), and 3) whoever’s responsible for the hack job took a chunk out of her already skinny arms and hips, too.

On the off-chance it was an actual accident, there’s still some tomfoolery going on here.

Observant blogger The Ethical Adman was the first to point out the images last Monday. By Tuesday afternoon, they had been removed and an apology issued by Target, thanks in part to the Internet outcry led by Jezebel and the New York Daily News.

But the damage had been done. A Google search Thursday afternoon for “Target Photoshop fail” netted 81.7 million results.

It’s bad enough that teen girls are going to extreme measures to achieve that infamous “gap between the thighs when standing upright with both knees touching.”

The Target images (I call them images, because at what point do they cease to be “photos”?) take it further and say, “Screw anatomy.”

Yes, some girls naturally have thigh gap, but there’s nothing natural about this marketing nightmare. This isn’t Barbie doll gap, this is “Ouch!” gap.

Maybe raising hell every time this happens is what it takes to chip away at the problem.

The good news is, the majority of teen girls questioned in the Today/AOL Body Image survey released last month said they wish the practice of Photoshopping models would become a thing of the past.

A few magazines and companies have taken a public stand against Photoshopping their models in an effort to discourage the idealization of unrealistic female bodies, most notably among the teen set Aerie, American Eagle’s sister store for bras and undies.

Aerie’s spring 2014 ad campaign features a handful of models of different shapes and sizes with the words “Time to think real. Time to get real. No supermodels. No retouching. Because … The real you is sexy.”

But it’s not just up to media to send home that message. Parents have a hand in it, too.

Last spring, while shopping in, of all places, Target, my friend Rebecca’s then-6-year-old son saw a photo of girls in bikinis. To her horror, he turned to her and said, “I wish you looked like that, Mom.”

She used the, um, opportunity to explain to him that she’s glad she doesn’t look like that because they aren’t real, and if they were, they were probably miserable because they “couldn’t eat a decent meal without losing their job.”

“It was funny to see the change in his eyes as he listened to me, then said, ‘I’m glad you’re you, Mama, not fake.’ ”

Mad props, Rebecca.

She knows the 6-year-olds of today are the ones who’ll be asked to retouch photos of girls in bikinis 20 years from now.



Forum reporter Meredith Holt lost over 100 pounds between 2010 and 2012. She will share stories of her weight-loss journey in her column, which runs the first and third Monday of each month in Variety. Readers can reach her at (701) 241-5590.

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