Forced modesty clearly subjugates, but what about the pressure to uncover? With summer nearly upon us, newsstands are replete with magazine covers instructing women on how to get the “perfect beach bod,” but this is not a seasonal phenomenon. In an age when gender equality is on everyone’s mind, there is a discrepancy between the sexes that no one is talking about -- call it “The Skin Gap.” The term, coined by social media nonprofit, Jew in the City, is illustrated in this thought-provoking new video.
The skin gap is the difference in the amount of skin men and women are expected to show in the same social setting. Images of the nearly flawless, scantily-clad female form bombard girls and women year round via billboards, ads, TV shows, and movies, subliminally conveying how a woman ought to dress and how her body ought to look.
The video forces the viewer to see that from pajamas, to summer street wear, to formal wear, the amount of skin that is "normal" for young, thin girls and women to expose versus their male counterparts is highly inequitable. The skin gap begins in toddlerhood and only ends when a woman has exceeded a certain number in age or pounds and no longer fits the Western Beauty Standard. The video closes by asking the viewer: “Gender equality is demanded everywhere else. Why not here?”
“As a secular American teen, I was so excited to get my first bikini and pair of Daisy Dukes, because it was a sign of being ‘grown up,’” said Allison Josephs, Founder of Jew in the City. “But something unexpected happened: I'd always feel gross when random men would give me the ‘up down.’ I never did anything or said anything because I had no language to express what I was feeling.”
“A few years later, I became an Orthodox Jew and started covering up purely to follow `the rules,’” adds Josephs. “I discovered something fascinating: covering up actually made me feel empowered. The first time I wore a long skirt and a random guy at the mall gave me the ‘up down’ but had nothing to see, inside I screamed, ‘Yes!’ No one can deny that the skin gap exists, and if this video helps one more woman feel more empowered about her body, then we'll consider it a success.”
Studies show that there is a direct correlation between girls and women viewing scantily clad pictures of perfect-looking women and female body dissatisfaction. As many as eight out of ten women (more than twice as many women than men) are unhappy with their figures, leading to depression, obsessive dieting, eating disorders and plastic surgery.
“The Skin Gap” video aims not only to start a conversation around gender inequality in regards to fashion and dress, but also to raise awareness for Jew in the City and to hopefully make people have a second thought about Orthodox modes of modesty.
About Jew in the City
Unfortunately, most non-Orthodox Jews and non-Jews have a very negative perception of Orthodox Jews and Judaism. When they think of Orthodoxy, words like backwards, repressed, outdated, sexist, and anti-scientific often come to mind. Scandals that reinforce these misconceptions, virtually always concerning individuals, appear in the media all too often. Popular movies, TV shows and books frequently recycle negative stereotypes about religiously observant Jewish people and their lifestyles. (The hole in the sheet, anyone?)
This is the battle that Jew in the City has been fighting since 2007. Our mission is to break down stereotypes about religiously observant Jews and offer a humorous, meaningful look into Orthodox Judaism. Jew in the City is reshaping the way society views Orthodox Jews and Judaism through social media, corporate cultural diversity training seminars, lectures, and consulting services. Our expert assistance helps journalists and media outlets to more accurately convey the nuances of the Orthodox community. The JITC team publicizes the message that Orthodox Jews can be funny, approachable, educated, pro-women and open-minded—and that Orthodox Judaism links the Jewish people to a deep and beautiful heritage, thousands of years old, that is just as relevant today as it ever was.