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Are we seeing rise of ‘Thin is In’ and the fall of body positivity?

Madeleine Rousell explores the reasons behind the recent body 'trends'.

As much as we hate to admit it, women’s bodies are a trend. Mass social media usage has ensured that there is always an idealised body type, and it’s easy to downwards spiral as we watch influencers or celebrities transform themselves and seemingly easily change their appearance. 2022 was the year of Kim Kardashian’s extreme diet to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s dress for the Met Gala, the return of y2k trends such as low rise, Miu Miu’s tiny mini skirt – and more recently, the trend of removing your buccal fat.

Social media users and body positive activists have been quick to target and blame the Kardashians for this shift in the perceived ‘desired’ body image, stating that Kim has been changing from ‘curvy’ to ‘skinny’ since 2019 where she looked unfamiliarly thin in the promotion for her Classic Blossom KKW makeup collection. Since then, tabloid articles and TikToks with the news that ‘Kim and Khloe are removing their BBLs’ have spread across the internet. This climaxed when, Kim Kardashian openly spoke about her strict diet eating “just the cleanest veggies and protein” resulting in her losing 16 pounds in 3 weeks to fit into her 2022 Met Gala dress. Since this, Buzzfeed reported that viewers of the show, The Kardashians, “feel like all Kim and Khloe talk about these days is weight loss and being skinny”, as Khloe Kardashian was seemingly delighted at being told that her family was worried about her weight.

Although the Kardashian’s huge cultural impact is undeniable and has the potential to be extremely triggering to some people, it somehow doesn’t feel right to pin the blame on a select group of women. In The Cut, Michelle Santiao Cortes reports that “The job of a cultural icon is to embody the Zeitgeist, and Kim does so literally”, and whilst the Kardashians may be already embedded as people to aspire to, or copy, so-called ‘skinny culture’ goes a lot deeper.

An active aspect of this shift in perspective on the trend of women’s bodies is the return of the y2k trend. The 2000s obsession with skinniness has been described as an ‘epidemic’, and you must wonder, did it ever end? “Heroin body” and “Kate moss aesthetic” have been recent trending searches on TikTok, and the romanticism of ultra-thin bodies seems to be returning. Bella Hadid’s spray on dress at Paris Fashion week was discussed world-wide in the fashion world, with it being praised as ‘haute couture’. However, a dress modelled from Hadid’s size 0 body, only perpetuates the idea that certain clothes are only for particular body types.

The impact of y2k fashion revival was also evident through Miu Miu’s viral micro-micro skirt. Essentially a belt, social media users commented on how slim you had to be to actually wear it. This was seemingly disproved when Paloma Elesser, a plus-size model whose social media tag is “some girls are bigger than others”, wore the skirt on the cover of i-D. Certainly a step in the right direction, however, it was revealed that the skirt had to be custom made as Miu Miu did not have her size.

This is perhaps reminiscent of the body positive façade which has been upheld for the past few years. On the surface, brands, celebrities, and general observers have welcomed body positivity, and shamed fatphobia after the thin obsession of the 2000s and the Tumblr culture of the 2010s. Yet, under the façade, the changes to fashion, social media, and celebrities have to be questioned – did ‘Thin is In’ ever truly leave?

Lockdown fitness trends, which bordered obsession, led to TikTok trending sounds such as “so you think I’m skinny”, and now users can see how size 0 “heroin chic body” is the new desired look for women, leaving us to wonder if this skinny obsession will ever end? and when will the world decide upon a new trend for women to follow? However, despite the undeniable influence over body image which celebrities such as the Kardashians have, shifting blame onto a group of women who have the same, if not heightened, image pressures can only lead to steps backwards. Body image and the concept of women’s bodies being a trend is, and always has been, a feminist issue.


Words: Madeleine Rousell

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