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Don’t read with the lights on…this is My Dark Library.
A collection of novellas curated by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann to represent her favorite themes, tropes, and subgenres in horror fiction today.
BOOK TWO: #thighgap by Chandler Morrison –
Los Angeles fashion model Helen Troy wasn’t always skinny. Drastic weight loss has given her everything–money, confidence, attention, respect. Being thin has legitimized her, and starvation has become an addiction.
Following an encounter with a seemingly “perfect” rival model who destabilizes Helen’s shaky self-confidence and shatters her fragile illusion of control, she’s sent into a tragic tailspin that will take her to the lowest depths of hell. Nightmarish versions of herself begin materializing in mirrors, and her tried-and-true coping mechanisms stop working. Reality comes apart at the seams as Helen’s disease manifests in increasingly self-destructive fashions, forcing her to ask herself…
What does perfection look like, and how much would you sacrifice to obtain it?
Chandler Morrison’s novella, #thighgap is about a young woman, Helen Troy (her stage name), who moves to Los Angeles and becomes a semi-famous model after she loses a bunch of weight through starvation and drug use. This book covers some severe body dysmorphia and eating disorders, so if this is a subject that you struggle with, you might want to skip this one.
#thighgap has characters with serious problems. Morrison has built a world where nobody is really engaged with anything besides themselves. One of Morrison’s previous books is titled Dead Inside, and that could be the name of this novella as well. All of these characters are dead inside and not even interested in connecting to anyone in a meaningful way. Many scenes have sentences about people wearing sunglasses. Even sex scenes where people are still wearing their sunglasses. This is really to hide the total numbness that every single person in this world feels and displays. The only thing that most of the characters in this novella care about is how they look, where the next party is, where to get more drugs, and how skinny they are compared to everyone else in the room. This superficial wasteland that Helen and her circle of acquaintances (I can’t say friends because no body is a friend here) live in makes the maintenance of being part of the group a struggle. This causes more and more drastic measures. In the few moments that Helen does reach out to get help for her disorders, she is met with people who really do not care. The most irritating of these people is her actual therapist, who basically tells her that she is doing good and wants her to go to his comedy show, talking to her the whole time from behind sunglasses while scrolling Instagram.
I know that body dysmorphia and body acceptance are serious subjects. Many people are trying to change the culture by advocating for more body acceptance, and I know that our society has gotten a little better, but really we are doing the bare minimum. When it comes to modeling and acting, there is still less acceptance of those who looks like normal people versus a person who is very skinny. Chandler Morrison chooses #thighgap to highlight this problem, but there is no real proposed solution. This novella and these characters ring true because we treat people like Helen Troy like celebrities. Until we stop hiding our dead eyes behind sunglasses and start to really examine our culture and it’s priorities, nothing much will change. We will continue to be like the people who tip one dollar to waitresses simply because they are told to tip. The true culture will not change. #thighgap highlights these truths in a story that might be hard for some people to read.