Editor’s Note: This story includes mention of potentially triggering topics, such as eating disorders and body dysmorphia.
On an innocuous Wednesday afternoon, I opened up TikTok. The first video I see is of a thin girl boasting about her body, eating a miniscule bowl of oats and turning to the side to show off how she does not have excess fat around her organs. I close the app.
This cycle is something I deal with every single time I peruse social media. Instagram infographics show how important it is to get rid of all inflammatory oils in your diet. Twitter threads show how to take care of your body through portion control.
You can’t run from thin-spiration. Being over a size four is out again. The tide has turned from body positivity to body exceptionalism.
We could easily blame everything on the popularity of low-rise jeans, but the reality is a lot deeper than that. This is a societal standard that is pushing us backward. It is actively harmful for anyone to have to be told to strive to be twenty pounds lighter just to be pretty to the general public.
For example, Torrid, a plus-size clothing brand, is receiving criticism for its most recent denim campaign. The models are mostly sizes large and extra large —several sizes smaller than the intended size demographic. We have got to be eons behind to think that a size large is plus size. It’s especially harmful considering the average size of an American woman is a size 14, or a size extra extra large.
Sure, we’re currently pushing towards inclusivity, with more representation of mid and plus-sized characters in TV and movies, but representation is not enough. Current health trends focus on being skinny rather than being healthy. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t know what it means to be healthy without trying to be skinnier.
It’s simply a matter of trends. Being skinny was the trend for so very long, but it wasn’t always popular. There are even ads from the 1950s that encourage women to gain weight. So why are we reverting to championing thinness?
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Being thin is being pushed on to us. Celebrity culture has brainwashed us into thinking that we should copy them, to do as they do. Adele lost weight. Kim Kardashian allegedly got her BBL removed in addition to crash dieting for the Met Gala. The tabloids tell us how to be skinny. How can we not internalize this blatant unhealthy programming?
Thinness is pushed onto us through our government. It’s ingrained in our culture to want to be skinnier. There has to be some sort of way to take care of ourselves that’s not unhealthy. Everything I look up when I Google “how to be healthy” refers to eating less and eating clean. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been doing research for this piece. But I find it extremely damaging to not understand how to take care of myself in a way that isn’t centered on losing weight.
We all want to be healthy. Why does it have to be so hard?
Char Jones (they/her) is a sophomore studying English and journalism.