‘Bye Bye Bootie,’ screams the New York Post’s headline. ‘Heroin chic has returned.’
While we can’t believe everything we read in the news, it’s something I’d been noticing for a while. The slow return to the adoration of the underweight, sickly appearance. Instead of sex, it’s frail, weak women wobbling down the catwalks without brows.
And I’m not the only one who has noticed. Louise Boyce is an Instagram sensation and model. Louise’s witty take on motherhood can be found online under the moniker ‘Mama Still Got It.’ In addressing the slow toxic comeback of so-called heroin chic, she found little to laugh about.
“This irritates me.” Over the weekend, she wrote in an online post. “On May 24, 1995, I was told for the first time that I needed to lose weight in order to achieve the ‘heroin chic’ look. I was 15 years old, and the measurements on the model form and from my first ever photo shoot show that I was a UK size 10 and did not need to lose weight. I had an exclamation mark?? next to my measurements, as if they were incorrect. This was the beginning of what would become an eating disorder. And now I see ‘journalism’ claiming that this ‘trend’ has returned??? Everything about this is poisonous and harmful. How is this news, and why are we still discussing it?
Worse, some people will want to keep up with this ‘trend,’ even if it is detrimental to their health. This type of news should be prohibited. Furthermore, the term “heroin” is offensive to anyone who has a naturally slim body shape. Please disregard these body types. I’m pretty sure men don’t follow fashion when it comes to their bodies.”
That is the crux of the matter. Body trends do not exist in men.
In recent years, the fashion industry, with its array of models, magazines, and photographers, has come under fire for its portrayal of women displaying, extremely thin faces and bodies of female and male models in withdrawn poses appearing purposefully sick.
Former President Bill Clinton proclaimed his support for the backlash against so-called “heroin chic.” Heroin adoration is not creative; it is destructive; it is not beautiful; it is ugly. And it’s not about art here; it’s about life and death.’
“Please, I am so tired of this,” fashion writer Tyler McClall said recently. I know we’re all pretending it’s not about restoring thin worship or whatever, but I can’t keep doing this.” They were referring to last month’s fashion weeks, when Bella Hadid closed out Paris Fashion Week at Coperini, her tiny body on the runway in a spray-painted dress.
Waifs girls paraded down the runway in micro minis and bare midriffs a few days later at the Mid Mid Spring 2023 show.
Even the notoriously bootie-shaking Kardashians have shifted away from the slim but curvy body positivity championed by Lizzo and Megan Thee Stallion. Kim boasted online about losing 16 pounds in three weeks in order to fit into the famous Marylin Monroe gown for the Met Ball. Rumor has it that they have reversed their Brazilian Butt lifts in order to embrace the new svelte trend.
The issue isn’t so much with the shows as it is with the spillover into fast-fashion brands that occurs just days after such shows. Some high-street stores are already packed to the rafters with belly tops and up-the-bum shorts. With body positivity campaigners like Ashley Graham on the cover of Sports Illustrated and France banning models with a BMI below 18 from working, the thin-obsessive culture is slowly infiltrating our Instagram feeds and creating distorted images of what bodies’should’ look like. Deliah Belle Hamlin, the daughter of Housewives of Beverly Hills reality star Lisa Rianna, recently sparked a flood of ‘please eat something’ messages when she posted a photo of herself displaying her ribs.
And, as much as we believe we are at ease with larger body shapes, the truth is that for many, plus-size celebrations border on tokenism.
Because if we were all so excited to see thicker models on our feeds and catwalks, how come it was so fleeting?
Perhaps the weak, sick, and subservient appearance, with eye-bags and coltish legs against the rippling muscles of male models, is just a new way to reduce women to ‘less than.’ It’s worth considering the messages we absorb and the messages we send in the opposite direction about what we want to see when we consume new media.